Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on Wednesday indicated he will be a seller at the Feb. 27 trade deadline. He took the first step in by asking defenseman Pavel Kubina to submit a list of five teams to which he would accept a trade. Kubina's limited no-trade clause provides for that parameter.
Yzerman would not say if a trade is imminent, but did say that "until the situation is resolved" and "to protect our interests" Kubina will not be on the ice and will not play in tonight's game with the Sharks.
"This doesn't make it official the sale is on," he said. "We're not going to give people away, but if deals make sense and whatever we're bringing in makes us a better organization, we'll do that. But we're not going to unload guys for the sake of unloading them."
The move does send the message those players who are unsigned for next season and potential unrestricted free agents could be dealt. For Tampa bay that includes defensemen Brett Clark, Matt Gilroy and Bruno Gervais, forwards Dominic Moore, Ryan Shannon and Adam Hall and goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Back to Kubina. Stanley Cup teams in the market for defensemen include the Rangers, to whom Kubina has been most strongly linked, the Flyers, Bruins and Red Wings. It would not be crazy to think Kubina might agree to go to the Panthers, given how much he likes living in Florida.
"Of course," center Steven Stamkos said when asked if Kubina would be a good addition. "He's been playing really good lately. He has confidence. He's big. He's strong. He's poised with the puck. He won before (2004 with Tampa Bay) and knows what it takes. We'll see if something gets done here."
Kubina, 34, has three goals, 11 points and 59 penalty minutes in 52 games this season and is plus-1 while averaging 19:54 of ice time. He has slowed a step but would be a terrific fit for a Stanley Cup team, especially if in a No. 5 or 6 position. Clearly, though, he doesn't fit into the Lightning's long-term plan.
What is that plan? Yzerman was cryptic.
"We'll make our decisions on a player-by-player basis or an opportunity-by-opportunity basis," Yzerman said. "We'll look at opportunities that make us a better tam in the future. That's our basic strategy. We want to be a Cup contender at some point. We're going to have to do some things to become that."
"Ultimately our fans, players, everybody wants to see our team in the playoffs and winning," Yzerman added. "Some steps have to be taken for us to be a perennial Cup contender."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Yzerman said there are no immediate plans for a call-up from AHL Norfolk. He said defenseman Matt Gilroy (hand) is ready to go and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) is improving. That said, he will re-evaluate before Saturday's game with the Capitals, and depending on injuries, may bring up someone from the Admirals. ... Roloson gets the start in net against the Sharks.