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)

For GM Yzerman, a crucial summer season

Ben Bishop’s future could also depend on whether Stamkos leaves.

Dirk Shadd/tbt*

Ben Bishop’s future could also depend on whether Stamkos leaves.

For Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, this summer promises to be a complicated one. Not to mention critical to the future of his franchise. Here's a look at his biggest decisions:

Signing Stamkos

Steven Stamkos, 26, wants to stay with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2008. But there's a reason his contract situation has dragged out this long, even with, Canada's Sportsnet reported, the Lightning offering Stamkos an eight-year deal worth $8.5 million annually. Stamkos could likely get more in free agency, but the Lightning can ill afford to go much higher because of the cap. Yzerman said he can't force Stamkos into signing, and with the center holding a full no-move clause, the GM can't trade his rights without his permission.

Stamkos insists he's not feeling pressure from the Players Association to strike a huge deal, nor has he thought about free agency.

Who's No. 1?

Yzerman said his team is in a "fantastic situation" with two elite goalies in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. There's Bishop, 29, a two-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's top netminder. And there's Vasilevskiy, 21, who showed why he's a future No. 1 in his four 30-plus-save performances after Bishop was hurt in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

"Is (Vasilevskiy) going to be a No. 1 starting goaltender in this league? I don't have a doubt in my mind," coach Jon Cooper said. "The ceiling is limitless."

The Lightning may explore a long-term deal with Bishop, especially if Stamkos isn't re-signed and there's salary-cap space. But the Lightning could also save money by trading Bishop, who is making $5.95 million, and net a hefty return while turning over the reins to Vasilevskiy, who makes $925,000. With a potential expansion draft next year, Yzerman could lose one of those goalies anyway. He knows he'll eventually have to make a decision but didn't rule out Bishop and Vasilevskiy starting next season as a tandem.

The cornerstones

Signing forward Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman appear to be locks. It's just a matter of for how much.

Kucherov, a dynamic scorer, racked up 59 goals the past two seasons and shined in the playoffs with 21 combined goals.

"He's an important part of our future," Yzerman said. "I love everything about him."

But it'll cost the Lightning. Kucherov's $700,000 salary could rise by around $5 million, depending on the contract term. And Hedman, a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman, will get a significant boost from his $4 million cap hit.

"Start it with a 9 (million)," NHL Network analyst Craig Button, a former GM, said of a Hedman deal. "Hedman is a stud. If (Canadiens defenseman) P.K. Subban is making $9 million … Hedman is an irreplaceable player."

Hedman's agent, Peter Wallen, said his client is willing to wait until Yzerman sorts out his other contracts.

"We're going to be patient," Wallen said. "It's a big puzzle for (Yzerman) to put in place."

Drouin wants to stay

The relationship between right wing Jonathan Drouin and the Lightning has seemingly been salvaged. Drouin, 21, who requested a trade in November before a six-week holdout in January, indicated Friday that demand is off the table and he expects to be back in Tampa Bay next season and beyond. "I definitely want to be here," Drouin said. "I love the way this ended, I guess, with this different and weird year. … It's definitely somewhere I want to play." — Joe Smith

For GM Yzerman, a crucial summer season 05/29/16 [Last modified: Sunday, May 29, 2016 7:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

    Blogs

    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  4. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said

    Blogs

    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.
  5. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.

    Storm

    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life -- evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. [Dr. Ann McKee | BU via AP]