Tampa Bay Lightning moves create more certainty and add some intrigue
When the Lightning put Ryan Craig, Brandon Bochenski and Adam Hall on waivers with the intent of sending them to AHL Norfolk, and released Brett McLean from his tryout, it left the big club with 25 players, two from the limit of 23 the team much reach by Wednesday. That means at least two more cuts need to be made, and since no moves were made to trim the 11 defensemen on the roster, it seems reasonable that is where the cuts will come.
But how many?
If the Lightning remains with 12 forwards, which is where it is now, it can keep up to nine defensemen. But keeping nine means up to three scratches a game. And even though it would have been nice last season to have so many extra parts around while the blue line was taken apart by injury, that seems redundant.
So, what's the next step? Well, perhaps the team tries to add a forward either through trade or off the waiver wire. GM Brian Lawton has maintained pretty consistently he is inclined to keep eight defensemen. If that is the case, it means he could keep up to 13 forwards. Lawton also did nothing to dissuade the notion that the decisions to be made on defense include the usual suspects: Matt Lashoff, Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby, David Hale and Lukas Krajicek.
As we have said, Lashoff and Lundin are on two-way contracts, and all five would need waivers to get to the minors. Complicating things is that Krajicek and Hale actually have had pretty solid training camps and Smaby, Lundin and Lashoff, all young and with upside, could get claimed off waivers.
in other words, the Lightning still has lots of balls in the air. We have another two days to see where they land.
Current Lightning roster:
Goaltenders: Mike Smith, Antero Niittymaki. Defensemen: Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, Matt Walker, Kurtis Foster, Paul Ranger, Andrej Meszaros, Lukas Krajicek, Matt Smaby, Matt Lashoff, Mike Lundin, David Hale. Forwards: Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Alex Tanguay, Vinny Lecavalier, Steve Downie, James Wright, Jeff Halpern, Drew Miller, Todd Fedoruk, Stephane Veilleux, Zenon Konopka.