Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman might add another D. Will it be Paul Ranger?
The Tampa Bay Lightning has seven defensemen on one-way contracts. If you recall, general manager Steve Yzerman has said he would like to have eight. Will Yzerman go out and find a free agent? Or could Paul Ranger be back?
Yzerman said he spoke earlier this week to Ranger, who missed most of last season due to undisclosed personal issues. But Yzerman said Ranger "is not prepared to make a decision one way or another at this time." Ranger's agent also declined comment.
It is an interesting situation in terms of planning for the future.
Yzerman has said he wants Ranger back, and Ranger, a good puck-moving defenseman (then-coach John Tortorella said Ranger, as a rookie, already made one of the best passes out of the defensive zone) would be a good fit for coach Guy Boucher, who historically has used puck-moving blue-liners to spark his offense. Ranger, 25, had 10 goals and 31 points in 2007-08, his last full season. He was limited to 42 games in 2008-09 with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Boucher said he also would not mind eight defensemen on the roster because he sometimes uses seven in games.
How long can Yzerman wait? He has said he wants enough depth on the blue line to be able to evaluate some of his younger, unproven defensemen. Mike Lundin might fall into that category, but it seems more likely Yzerman is talking about Matt Smaby and Matt Lashoff, both of whom have one year left on their contracts.
Don't expect Yzerman to wait much longer. He has to fill out his roster. For now, he's keeping some cap space available just in case.