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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has options to bolster defense

By now, there has to be some concern within the Lightning that Mattias Ohlund will not play this season, much less soon.

The defenseman has not skated in several weeks because of pain that has persisted in his knees despite Oct. 11 arthroscopic surgeries on both to clean out what the team called "loose bodies."

Ohlund is frustrated by the situation, the team is as well, and fans are wondering what GM Steve Yzerman is going to do.

He has several options.

• He can stick with what he has. Bruno Gervais has done a credible job as a No. 6 defenseman in the absence of injured Pavel Kubina, so for now, at least, there is no reason to panic.

• Yzerman could get aggressive and call up Radko Gudas or Mark Barberio from AHL Norfolk. Barberio had three goals and 19 points and was plus-11 through his first 23 games. Gudas, a big hitter, had four goals and nine points and was plus-4.

Yzerman, though, is not one to rush a prospect, and long term he believes those players are better served playing big minutes in Norfolk than a supporting role with the Lightning.

• He could make a trade. Yzerman would love to obtain a steady defender with speed. But so would just about everybody else. Tampa Bay doesn't have the depth to deal a primary roster player, and to get something significant, Yzerman would have to give something significant. He also has little interest in dealing top prospects or high draft choices.

Then there is the matter of what is available. It still is early in the season (meaning most contracts still have a lot of money pending) and teams are so bunched together in the standings (meaning not many are out of playoff contention) that teams are more interested in shedding bad contracts than worrying about paring those they cannot sign for next season.

The Hurricanes were desperate to dump floundering Tomas Kaberle and his $4.25 million annual salary through 2013-14. Shockingly, they found a taker in the Canadiens last week. That is the current market.

Yzerman is patient. Expect him to wait for what he believes is the right situation, whether it comes sooner or later.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has options to bolster defense 12/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 6:42pm]
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