Will next moves for Tampa Bay Lightning be trades?
It may not happen right away, but it looks more and more as if the Tampa Bay Lightning will use trades to acquire a backup goalie and, perhaps, another wing, ideally one who has the potential to score 20 goals. But the backup goalie is the priority as I'm sure no one wants to go into the season with Riku Helenius behind Mike Smith. Nothing against Helenius. He may turn out to be a great pro. He's just not ready yet.
So, why did the Lightning not sign a backup goalie on the first day of free agency? If you check the signings, you don't see one-year contracts for netminders. Andif you believe Karri Ramo will be back after next season (as his two-year contract stipulates he can be), Tampa Bay perhaps wants a guy it can keeparound for one year until Ramo gets back.
It's better for the bottom line, too, to unload some players before taking on more payroll.
It's not hard to figure out the Lightning has a lot of defensemen, which means it has some pieces with which to play. The Lightning will not get rid of its most attractive players but it would have to deal someone from that group who has appeal around the league. Is Lukas Krajicek a possibility? He is signed for about $1.5 million for next season, and while he adds experience, he was not as gritty a player as coach Rick Tocchet likes.
As for forwards, that's a little trickier, though it seems the team has some depth at center with players such as Ryan Craig, Paul Szczechura and even Zenon Konopka, who has a one-waycontract next season (as does wing Brandon Bochenski, by the way). Add Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Jeff Halpern, and, well, you have some depth from which to deal.
Lecavalier and Stamkos aren't going anywhere (especially for a backup goalie or wing), Craig and his creaky knees might be tough to move, Szczechura has a friendly contract and the instincts to be an NHL player, thoughhe has to score more to complement his sturdy defense. Halpern could be intriguing. He is set to make $2 million next season and has the experience and track record that could make him attractive. Of course, he could be an attractive third-line option for Tampa Bay, too, and we've seen what he can do when he is healthy. I'm just throwing his name out there because of his contract and because, well, you usually have to give something to get something in a trade.
By no means am I predicting anything. Just trying to consider the options. We'll see.