Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Playoffs or no, this season only part of picture for Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning is a long shot to make the playoffs and general manager Steve Yzerman is selling off assets. It is a challenging time for Tampa Bay, but consider this:

Missing the playoffs might not be the worst thing long-term for an organization trying to establish self sufficiency.

The Lightning is far from Yzerman's vision of a perennial Stanley Cup contender that, like the Red Wings — the organization that shaped his frame of reference as a player and executive — runs almost on its own momentum.

To do that, teams need organizational depth.

Think of it as a conveyor belt of talent. For small-market teams such as the Lightning that is critical because homegrown talent, generally, is younger and cheaper.

As Yzerman said of trying to build through free agency, "You can't keep going out every summer and keep trying to sign guys. That's not a recipe for long-term success."

Establishing organizational depth is a process, especially for a franchise that from 1999-2007 was gutted by bad drafting.

Things are improving. Yzerman and staff got good reviews for the two drafts for which he was in charge and even the malfunctioning ownership of Oren Koules and Len Barrie drafted fairly well from 2008-09.

This year, though, is an opportunity to really move the process forward, even though the price might be the team's regular-season failure.

Already, Yzerman has traded center Dominic Moore to the Sharks and defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Flyers for 2012 second-round draft picks, giving him four second-rounders. And there still are eight days until the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Assets gained will give Yzerman options. He can use the picks at the draft or trade them to move up or for better assets. And if Tampa Bay does not make the playoffs, add another quality draft choice, all of which means depth and the opportunity to develop it are improved.

This is not to suggest Lightning players shouldn't push as hard as they can to reach the postseason. But if they fail, and the climb certainly is steep, consider it part of a process for which the team should be better.

Playoffs or no, this season only part of picture for Tampa Bay Lightning 02/18/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 18, 2012 7:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  2. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  3. Lefty quarterback's task? Make sure nothing's lost in translation


    GAINESVILLE — When Florida receiver Brandon Powell first met new quarterback Malik Zaire this summer, he was struck by the Notre Dame grad transfer's enthusiasm and outgoing personality.

    Florida quarterback Malik Zaire talks with the press during the NCAA college football team's media day in Gainesville. Zaire is a lefty quarterback, just like Tim Tebow. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)
  4. Nikita Kucherov in a wide-ranging Q&A


    While Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has a tendency to be quiet around the media, he's a Russian with a variety of interests and a passionate hockey mind.

    Nikita Kucherov recently did a Q&A with Russia's, in which he addressed an array of topics.
  5. Steven Souza's two passions collide in charity fantasy football event

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Steven Souza knows a thing or two about football.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 23, 2017.