Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman not a fan of offer sheets for restricted free agents

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he doesn't like using offer sheets to lure players from an opponent, and it has nothing to do with the idea fellow GMs would look unfavorably at the maneuver.

Nope, the way Yzerman sees it, with offer sheets, "you're just screwing up your own pay structure."

"The only way a team doesn't match the offer is if you grossly overpay the player," he said. "That's why I don't like it. If you do a contract for the right value of a player, chances are the other team is just going to match it."

It is an interesting discussion given chatter last week that teams might go the offer-sheet route with Canucks goalie Cory Schneider. A report in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper even singled out the Lightning as a possibility.

Schneider, 26, who can be a restricted free agent July 1 and is considered a franchise player, certainly is an attractive target. And Tampa Bay is in desperate need of a goalie and likes Schneider.

But offer sheets, if accepted, come with a price beyond what a team is willing to pay in salary. The team losing the player also must be compensated. The higher the offer sheet, the more draft picks, including first-rounders, go the other way.

There also is this: Teams extending offer sheets cannot contact players until June 26, cannot sign players until July 1 and may have only a small window to do so if the player (by July 5) or his team (by July 6) files for salary arbitration, which stops the offer.

No wonder only Dustin Penner, who left the Ducks for the Oilers in the summer of 2007, is the only player to move via offer sheet since the latest collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2005.

That move caused so much friction between then-Ducks GM Brian Burke and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, there was talk they would fight.

Asked if he would be worried about such frayed feelings, Yzerman said, "Well, not really."

"At the end of the day we're all competitive," he said. "We're all trying to put the best team on the ice within the rules of the CBA. The biggest issue, in my opinion, is in order to get the player, you have to overpay. When a contract is out of whack, I think everybody — not only the general managers, the media, everybody — looks at you like, 'What are you doing?' It doesn't make sense."

TICKET UPDATE: Lightning attendance took an appreciable jump this season.

Official average attendance (tickets sold and distributed) was 18,468, up 7 percent from 17,268 in 2010-11. And records from Hills­borough County, which owns the Tampa Bay Times Forum, show actual attendance (the turnstile count) up 14 percent from an average 13,474 in 2010-11 to 15,364.

Now comes the hard part: maintaining the upward trend after a nonplayoff season.

"There were some folks who sort of jumped on the bandwagon or might have only been doing it based on (the 2010-11) playoff run," chief executive officer Tod Leiweke said. "But the vast majority of fans come back because they believe in what (owner Jeff Vinik) is doing and they see what (Yzerman) is doing."

Leiweke said that between full and partial packages, the goal is to maintain this season's 11,000 season-ticket base. It is believed the team has sold slightly more than 8,000 season tickets so far.

"If we can maintain a number like that (11,000) and get back on the ice where we want to be, we feel good about it," Leiweke said.

Comments
A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But NHL?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forward who was born in ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Published: 06/23/18
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Published: 06/22/18
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18