Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning might have to change goaltending plan

Darn those Canucks. Didn't Vancouver's coaches know the Lightning was casting a covetous eye at goaltender Cory Schneider? Didn't they know Schneider was going to solve all the Lightning's problems?

Schneider during the Western Conference quarterfinal with the Kings has been elevated to No. 1, and reports out of Vancouver indicate the Canucks want to trade Roberto Luongo instead.

At the least, the cost of prying Schneider away has become prohibitive, which means Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has some thinking to do as he tries to find Tampa Bay's first legitimate No. 1 — save for the five months in 2011 provided by Dwayne Roloson — since Nikolai Khabibulin backstopped the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup.

Is Luongo the answer? He was in net when Canada, a team assembled by Yzerman, won 2010 Olympic gold. Would the Kings' Jonathan Bernier be better? How about Nashville's Anders Lindback? And how will teams also pining for a No. 1 affect price and availability?

As for the commodities themselves …

Luongo: Never say never, but this seems the least likely option for Tampa Bay. He would provide a veteran presence and good stats: a career 2.52 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. But Luongo, with a no-trade clause, is 33 and two years into a 12-year, $64 million deal that pays $6.714 million the next six years and has a $5.33 million cap hit. Adding Luongo would mean he, Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone would eat up more than $30 million in cap space, seemingly too much for a team needing major upgrades on the blue line and another top-six forward.

Bernier: He is the right age (24 on Aug. 7) to grow with the young stars, and his price ($1.525 million next season) is right. But is he ready after just 48 NHL games to carry the No. 1 load? His stats — 20-17-5, 2.50 goals-against average and .910 save percentage — say, well, maybe.

Lindback: With just 38 NHL games under his belt (16-13-2, 2.53, .914), Lindback, 24 on May 3, carries the same red flags as Bernier. But at 6 feet 6 (compared to Bernier's 5-11), his net coverage is a bonus. A pending restricted free agent who made $737,500 this season, he also would require a trade.

Free agents: A non-inspiring group includes one semi-intriguing option if Yzerman wants a stopgap until something better comes along. Josh Harding, 28 on June 18, has a career 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 117 games, though in four full seasons with the Wild has not been able to elevate to the top spot.

In the system: Dustin Tokarksi of AHL Norfolk proved this season he is not ready for the NHL. The Lightning owns the rights to Russian Vasily Koshechkin and Finland's Riku Helenius, on whom it used the 15th overall draft pick in 2006. Neither seems to be in Tampa Bay's immediate plans, and as assistant GM Julien BriseBois noted, the NHL at present does not have transfer agreements with either country.

All of which brings the Lightning back to the original premise: Darn those Canucks.

Tampa Bay Lightning might have to change goaltending plan 04/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 21, 2012 8:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan feels good after first game action since January


    TAMPA — As veteran RW Ryan Callahan was riding a stationary bike before Friday's exhibition game, he felt nervous. There was anxiety.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) pursues Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) during the first period of Friday (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. FSU players rally around freshman QB James Blackman


    TALLAHASSEE — For the first few minutes Saturday, Florida State's James Blackman looked like a true freshman making his first start at quarterback for a big-time program.

    Florida State Seminoles quarterback James Blackman (1) gets sacked during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  Final score, North Carolina State Wolfpack 27, Florida State Seminoles 21.
  3. No. 12 FSU, defense struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — It's easy to blame No. 12 Florida State's 27-21 loss to North Carolina State on the injury to starting quarterback Deondre Francois or the three-week layoff because of Hurricane Irma.

    It would also be wrong.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  4. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  5. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH: