Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Don't look to trades for a Lightning shake-up

TAMPA — If the Lightning emerges from its early-season funk, it likely won't be the result of a shakeup trade.

GM Steve Yzerman has said he doesn't believe in making a deal to spark a struggling club. And even if Yzerman did, he has acknowledged it's a tough market for trades.

As Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, 15 of the 30 teams are either using long-term injured reserve for salary cap space or are within $1 million of the cap, meaning deals mostly have to be "dollar for dollar." That could be problematic if the Lightning tries to free up cap space for a potential extension for C Steven Stamkos.

"It's one of many reasons it is hard to make a deal," Yzerman said. "Finding a fit, that team that has a need — are they also a fit for whether it's a draft pick or player, depending on what every team's goals are. … And when you find a fit, you've got to make the contracts work, and that can screw up a lot of good deals."

STEPPING IN: D Matt Taormina wasn't expecting to get called up by the Lightning on Friday.

"I was shocked," Taormina said.

But with the Lightning wanting to get D Nikita Nesterov more playing time with AHL Syracuse, Taormina, 29, was brought up, partly as insurance as the seventh defenseman. He was scratched for Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Panthers. With a healthy defensive core, Nesterov played in just six of the first 18 games. It's possible Nesterov will stay with the Crunch through next weekend, Yzerman said.

It was Taormina's first callup since December 2013, when he played in seven games for Tampa Bay. "I don't know how long I'll be here," he said. "I just have to take advantage."

MOVING UP: C Vladislav Namestnikov started on Stamkos' left wing for the second straight game and scored two goals. "He's earned his ice," coach Jon Cooper said before the game. "He's earned the right to play some more, and we've got to find a way."

LW Jonathan Drouin, who started the season on Stamkos' line, remained on the fourth with C Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown, having played just 9:26 Thursday against the Flames. Drouin was a plus-1 in 13:20 Saturday, and played two shifts in overtime.

WITH HONORS: Cooper, named to the staff of Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Friday, called it a "massive honor." Cooper said head coach Todd McLellan, the Oilers' coach, approached him a few weeks ago about coaching the team of players 23 and younger from the United States and Canada in the eight-team tournament.

"It's a pretty exciting list when he was reeling off some names," Cooper said. "To be pulling a group of kids together that are young and eager and hungry, and to watch future stars come to play, I'm really, really excited."

GOOD KARMA? At the request of the players, last season's warmup music was brought back for Thursday's game and continued Saturday. "It seems to work," D Andrej Sustr said. "So we're going with it."

IN MEMORIAM: There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of Friday's Paris terrorist attacks.

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