Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Five top story lines of free agency

The big fish — the Lightning's Steven Stamkos — is gone, so teams will circle around other targets when free agency opens today.

Here are five things to know about free agency, which begins at noon:

Plan B

The Sabres, Maple Leafs, Red Wings and rest of the league that lost the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes will circle back to new candidates such as wing Kyle Okposo, 28 and a three-time 20-goal scorer whom the Islanders are letting walk over salary cap issues. No player will benefit more from Stamkos' $68 million, eight-year deal than Okposo, but Loui Eriksson, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and David Backes could sign early after the market opens.

Loving Lucic

After drafting left wing Jesse Puljujarvi last week and trading Taylor Hall to the Devils, the Oilers are the heavy favorites to land Lucic, a 6-foot-4 power forward who had 20 goals and 35 assists with the Kings last season. Lucic played for Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli when both were with the Bruins.

Contenders lay low

Many of the top teams have so little cap space left that they won't be a major factor, including the Stanley Cup champion Penguins and the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals. The Blackhawks are in that group, too, though defenseman Brian Campbell, likely exiting the Panthers, could take a discount to return to Chicago, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

Thin goalie market

James Reimer is the top option available, which says a lot about the pool's quantity and quality. Reimer was a starter at one time for the Maple Leafs and backed up Martin Jones on the Sharks' run to the Stanley Cup final. Beyond him are backups.

Thin blue line

Because defensemen Keith Yandle (Panthers) and Alex Goligoski (Coyotes) are signed and Brian Campbell has a defined focus on which team he'd like to leave the Panthers for, that leaves Dan Hamhuis, Kris Russell and Jason Demers as the top options. Most general managers know they won't find a top-four defenseman in this class.

Five top story lines of free agency 06/30/16 [Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2016 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  3. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning

    Blogs

    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  4. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.