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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman prefers an excess of defensemen

TAMPA — With eight defensemen signed to one-way contracts — deals that pay the same whether a player is in the NHL or the minors — it would seem the Lightning needs to make a move.

But general manager Steve Yzerman said he likely will keep all eight, in part because he wants to evaluate on the NHL level his younger blue-liners such as Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby and Matt Lashoff whose contracts are up after next season.

"It doesn't mean we will, and I'm not saying for certain, but for the time being having eight defensemen isn't too many," Yzerman said. "It's better if we had the flexibility of one or two on two-way (contracts), but this gives me a chance to assess and see where we are."

Besides, he said, coach Guy Boucher likes using seven defensemen in games rather than the usual six.

Seven defensemen means using 11 forwards instead of 12 to fill out four lines. Boucher said he probably won't do it every game, but it can provide insurance and flexibility.

"I always find defensemen are the ones to fall quicker than forwards because they are more subjected to some pounding, so it gives you more liberty in terms of a buffer for injuries," Boucher said.

On the power play, "You can have a specialist if you want. Sometimes a guy who is a power-play guy has more trouble five-on-five."

As for flexibility, "When you have an injury during a game, you're down to five defensemen. If you have a guy in the penalty box, you're down to five defensemen. If you have an extra defenseman, it levels the playing field."

With fewer forwards, "You have a spot to fill there, a blank, with whoever you want. If somebody is playing great that night, you can have a guy get more ice time. You can spot your better players. You can create with some freedom."

SCRIMMAGE: Fs Jonathan Lessard, Alex Killorn and Matt Marshall had two goals each Tuesday as the White beat the Black 7-4 at the team's developmental camp at the St. Pete Times Forum. First-round draft pick Brett Connolly had a goal and an assist for the Black.

YOUNG GUNS GAME: The camp finale is 6 p.m. today. It is free and open to the public. Park in the VIP West lot and enter through Gate B.

FUNDRAISER: During the Young Guns game, the Lightning Foundation will accept cash and checks for the Curtis/Kocab Memorial Fund, which benefits the families of Tampa police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab. Both officers were killed June 29 in the line of duty.

There also will be a Q&A with Yzerman, Connolly and D Brett Clark.

ODDS AND ENDS: Yzerman said the Lightning's assistant coaches should be signed in the next week or two, and he is looking into an ECHL affiliation. … It sounds as if Jim Johnson, who is running the development camp, will be back as coach of AHL Norfolk. "We're on the same page," Yzerman said. … The Lightning will participate in the Red Wings' eight-team rookie camp, Sept. 11-15 at Traverse City, Mich. … C Nate Thompson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for July 22, though negotiations can continue until then. … G Dan Ellis will wear No. 33. He wore 39 with Nashville, but that belongs to Tampa Bay D Mike Lundin. ... The Canucks will retire Markus Naslund's No. 19 before a Dec. 11 game in Vancouver with the Lightning.

Around the league: Blues D Darryl Sydor retired after an 18-year career. Sydor, 38, played for six teams, including the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning. He totaled 334 points and 401 penalty minutes in 714 games with the Stars and earned All-Star selections in 1998 and '99. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999. In 1,291 games, Sydor totaled 507 points, 755 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating. … The Flyers signed W Dan Carcillo to a one-year contract. He had 22 points and 207 penalty minutes in 76 regular-season games for Philadelphia last season. … ESPN.com reported that the Blackhawks will match the Sharks' four-year, $14 million offer to D Niklas Hjalmarsson. … F Maxim Lapierre signed a $900,000, one-year deal with the Canadiens. He spent most of the past four seasons with Montreal.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman prefers an excess of defensemen 07/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 8:44pm]
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