Tampa Bay Lightning loses Antti Miettinen off waivers; GM Yzerman says system needs tweaking
At about 12:02 p.m. on Tuesday, Lightning coach Guy Boucher walked sternly through the hallway leading to the locker room at the St. Pete Times Forum and said, "We ain't getting him."
Boucher was talking about free agent right wing Antti Miettinen, whom the Lightning signed on Monday to a two-year, $3 million deal. But because Miettinen was returning from Europe -- he played 20 games with Kazan of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League -- he also had to clear waivers. He was claimed by the Jets.
"I can't say I'm surprised," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said. "We knew there would be a risk in doing this, but we felt after waiting around a week, 10 days, 'we can't wait around all year. Let's take a chance and see what happens."
Yzerman said he has no problem with Winnipeg making the claim.
"Not at all," he said. "If somebody else signed him, depending on the contract, we would have considered claiming him. They were well within the rules and were entitled to do it."
The rule was put in place in order to stop teams from stockpiling players in Europe (thus circumventing the salary cap) and bringing them back to the NHL when needed. But the flaw is that the team that has done all the work signing the player is at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping him. That is why the Lightning tried to make the contract as unfriendly to other teams as possible by signing Miettinen to a two-year deal with a no-move clause.
"I don't know if it's fair or unfair, but there is a flaw to it," Yzerman said. "I think it needs to be tweaked. Maybe, like, you can't be claimed by a team higher than you in the standings, I don't know."
Boucher knows is that this season if not for bad luck, the Lightning would have no luck at all.
"I think we'll put luck aside this year," he said.
As for Miettinen, he added, "He'll have to pack up some snow suits instead of bathing suits."