Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lighting players laud GM's offseason moves

When Lightning right wing Teddy Purcell, through mutual friends, ran into Predators defenseman Shea Weber at a Blue Jays game in Toronto, he immediately asked about Anders Lindback.

Acquired from Nashville, Lindback, Pekka Rinne's backup the past two seasons, is expected to be Tampa Bay's solution to its long-time problem in goal.

"Obviously, it was one of the first things I asked him," Purcell said. "He was saying how Lindback is not a backup goalie, he's a No. 1 goalie, so that's very encouraging for all of us."

Several Lightning players are just as encouraged about the job done over the summer by general manager Steve Yzerman, who with five transactions aggressively addressed his team's biggest needs and maintained roster flexibility by staying $7 million under the $70.2 million salary cap.

"I'm very happy, and that's a bit of an understatement," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "They clearly identified some areas they wanted to get better, and it seems they really went after it."

"With the moves they made, I think we can get something done," wing Marty St. Louis said, "and that's exciting."

The inventory:

• Acquired Ben Pouliot from the Bruins for a 2012 fifth-round draft pick and minor-leaguer Michel Ouellet. The left wing, with 16 goals last season, will get a chance to earn a top-six spot.

• Acquired Lindback for two 2012 second-round picks and a 2013 third-round pick, a steep price but worth it if the 6-foot-6 Swede becomes a bona fide No. 1, as many predict.

• Signed free agent defensemen Matt Carle and Sami Salo. They give the blue line a much-needed upgrade, and their puck-moving abilities will help the transition game. Salo's big right-handed shot should boost the power play.

• Acquired tough guy B.J. Crombeen and a 2014 fifth-round pick from the Blues for fourth-round picks in 2013 and '14. Yzerman said the team needed to get bigger and tougher, especially after last season's trade of Steve Downie. Crombeen gives Tampa Bay a heavyweight fighter who also can contribute on the penalty kill and chip in a goal.

"I think it's great," captain Vinny Lecavalier said of the moves. "You look at what we have this year with the guys we had and the guys we added, they're all guys who can move the puck. That's going to be a great help."

For now, it seems Yzerman is done tinkering. He has interest in free agent Shane Doan but said he has not gotten a response from Doan's agent, so he assumes there is little return interest.

Besides, Yzerman said, he wants to give opportunities to players within the organization to earn spots with the big club: "So unless it's a player I know is going to be better than one of those guys, we're not going to fill a spot."

We'll see how it all works out. Remember, goalie Mike Smith was supposed to be the next big thing when he came over from the Stars in the Brad Richards deal in 2008.

For now, though, as Yzerman said, "I think we've addressed a lot of needs."

"Obviously, during (last) season it was hard to see some of your best friends go," Purcell said of the trades of Downie, Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore. "At the same time, we all knew Steve was going to build back up in the summer, and he's done that."

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