Monday, July 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Matt Carle happy to be staying put with Lightning

TAMPA — Veteran defenseman Matt Carle couldn't help but feel a bit relieved after Monday's trade deadline came and went without any Lightning deals.

Carle, 31, had been a subject of trade speculation considering his declining role and $5.5 million cap hit the next two seasons. Even with a limited no-trade clause — a list of 14 teams he couldn't go to — he noted it was "open season" for the other half of the league.

"It's hard not to think about it," Carle said. "I'm happy to still be here and be part of this team. I've got a lot of good friendships in this locker room, all the players and staff, training staff and equipment staff. So it would be tough to have to make a transition away from that. You're happy that everything worked out."

Things have worked out lately for Carle, who is playing his best hockey of the season after finally getting consistent playing time.

After being scratched in 10 of 13 games, Carle has played in 12 straight. He is plus-10 in his past eight. He stepped up during the absence of injured Jason Garrison, providing a boost to the blue line in the Lightning's club-record-matching eight-game winning streak, which is on the line tonight against the Hurricanes.

And Carle's emergence likely made it easier for general manager Steve Yzerman not to feel the need to address the blue line for the team's playoff push.

"I've never questioned whether I can play in this league," Carle said. "It's a matter of getting comfortable, getting your timing, knowing when you have time to make plays and when you don't. That's pretty much what it is."

It has been a trying season for Carle, in his fourth year in his second stint with the Lightning. This is the first time he has been a healthy scratch this often, playing in 48 of 64 games as Nikita Nesterov, 22, has gotten more of an opportunity.

But Carle, the team's highest-paid defenseman, has handled it as well as he could. Teammates say they can't tell by his attitude and work ethic if he is playing 20 minutes or watching from the press box.

And when Garrison went down with a lower-body injury Feb. 8, Carle was inserted back into the lineup. He was minus-6 in the first four games — coach Jon Cooper said it wasn't all his fault — before settling in. After going without a point in his first 40 games, he has three in his past eight (two goals). Plus, he has had a few points taken away on scoring changes; an assist was removed Thursday against the Senators when Anton Stralman's goal was disallowed due to goalie interference.

"That just tells you he's a pro," Cooper said. "There are ups and downs in seasons; there's up and downs in careers. But Matt Carle, he's just hung with it, and he's stepped forward."

Carle's reads and decision making have been better, which he attributes to getting regular minutes. At points this season, he'd bounce between 15 minutes a game to less than 10. He had a season-low 7:35 on Dec. 15 in a 5-4 overtime win against the Maple Leafs.

But Carle has logged at least 15 minutes in 10 of the past 12 games, 20-plus minutes in two. He said that has helped him get in the flow of the game.

"It's getting a feel for the game, ultimately," Carle said. "Getting used to the forecheck, getting forechecked at full speed, getting used to making decisions a lot quicker than you normally would in practice. That's the biggest difference between playing and not playing and being comfortable and having confidence to make plays."

Comments
Here’s our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Here’s our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHL’s Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHL’s Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Published: 07/06/18
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Published: 07/06/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Published: 07/06/18