Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Hedman's agent optimistic that extension will happen with Lightning

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lightning fans worrying that D Victor Hedman's contract talks will drag out as long as C Steven Stamkos' might be reassured.

"I would be shocked if this would go for the whole year," Hedman's agent, Peter Wallen, said.

Hedman, 25, the team's top defenseman, has one more year left on his current contract at a $4.25 million salary cap hit. The Lightning can sign him to an extension as early as July 1, one year from unrestricted free agency.

While no talks between the team and Hedman have begun, Wallen said they will be patient, knowing GM Steve Yzerman has a lot of other things to work on, including Stamkos, who was able to start talking to other teams at midnight Friday and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"When (the Lightning) is ready to talk, we'll be here," Wallen said.

The market seems to be getting set high for defensemen with Keith Yandle signing a seven-year, $44.5 million deal ($6.35 million annual average) with the Panthers, who are also reportedly discussing an eight-year, $60 million extension for Aaron Ekblad.

But Wallen said Hedman's priority is winning a Stanley Cup with the Lightning. And while no negotiation can be easily predicted, Wallen is optimistic the sides can get something done.

Signings: The Lightning started chipping away at its many restricted free agents Friday, signing three, including RW J.T. Brown and C Cedric Paquette to two-year deals.

D Luke Witkowski signed a one-year deal.

Brown, a key bottom-six forward and penalty killer, received a $2.5 million deal ($1.25 million per year), with Paquette $1.625 million ($800,000 next season, $825,000) in 2017-18.

The team has several restricted free agents to lock up, including RW Nikita Kucherov, a 30-goal scorer who is due a big raise from the $700,000 he made last season. The club has had preliminary discussions with Kucherov's camp but so far preliminary, with no offers yet. There should be more talk leading up until July 1 and after.

RW Alex Killorn, C Vladislav Namestnikov and G Kristers Gudlevskis also are restricted free agents. The team has an estimated $18.3875 million in cap space for next season, according to generalfanager.com.

Yzerman said he hopes to keep all of his restricted free agents as long as they fit within the salary cap.

First pick: With its first-round pick, Tampa Bay went with Brett Howden, a 6-foot-2 center out of Moose Jaw of the WHL, 27th overall. Yzerman said Howden, 18, is strong two-way center with really good hockey sense.

"We feel really good about getting him where we picked," Yzerman said.

Fellow Lightning prospect Brayden Point also played for Moose Jaw.

"Hear he was kind of helping me out," Howden said. "May have to thank him for it."

Cally update: The reason RW Ryan Callahan waited three weeks after the season ended to have hip surgery is because he was hoping to avoid a procedure with rest and treatment, Yzerman said. After deciding to have the surgery, Callahan is expected to be out five months, forcing him to miss the World Cup of Hockey and the first month of the season. Callahan is expected to make a full recovery.

Second day: Tampa Bay has eight picks in today's second day of the draft, which begins at 10 a.m. (NHL Network).

Comments
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Updated: 10 hours ago
How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

BRANDON — The best team in town had just wrapped up practice. The Lightning had a plane to catch, to St. Louis, where Tuesday in St. Louis begins a four-city road trip that ends at expansion Las Vegas, exclusive engagement, one show a night, unless y...
Published: 12/11/17
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn’t play his best, he’s going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn’t want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself i...
Published: 12/09/17

Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday’s game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL’s top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand."It’s going to be a big test for us," Light...
Published: 12/09/17
Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

TAMPA — How about that Lightning power play."Coaching," coach Jon Cooper said before Saturday’s game with the Jets.He was kidding."You always look like a good coach when you can throw (Nikita) Kucherov and (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman over th...
Published: 12/09/17

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Jets game

The game drew the hockey world’s attention because it matched the NHL’s top team against a rising team in the West. It was refreshing to see both treat it as more than just another game. The Jets saw a chance to measure themselves against the top tea...
Published: 12/09/17
Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

TAMPA — When Cory Conacher was called up a little over a week ago, it looked like it might be for just a one-game cameo.Center Cedric Paquette had been suspended for one game for boarding, and the Lightning, otherwise healthy up front, needed a fill-...
Published: 12/09/17