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Tampa Bay Lightning's next move must be well-calculated

Defender Matt Carle, said to have offensive skills, had two points in 12 Lightning games.

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Defender Matt Carle, said to have offensive skills, had two points in 12 Lightning games.

The Lightning miscalculated with Matt Carle, which wouldn't have been so bad had the deal that brought him from the Sharks not been so high profile.

Carle was the main piece Tampa Bay got in return for defenseman Dan Boyle. Granted, that trade, in which the Lightning also got prospect Ty Wishart and a draft pick, was done primarily to get rid of Boyle's new six-year, $40-million contract.

But Carle was sold as a defenseman with offensive upside who could run the power play. He showed little of that and could be a defensive liability.

General manager Brian Lawton said sending Carle to the Flyers on Friday wasn't about anything Carle did. That is correct. It's what he didn't do, and that he was costing the Lightning $2.95-million in salary and a $3.438-million cap hit not to do it.

You pay someone that much and you want him contributing more than a goal and an assist in 12 games. You want him to be a guy you can put on the ice in the final minute. Carle wasn't.

But here's the thing with defensemen. Rarely do they figure it out so early in a career. Remember how long it took Pavel Kubina to get it? When he did, he was pretty good. But he also was 27 with 400 games under his belt.

Carle is 24 with 164 games, so Tampa Bay wasn't willing to be patient, a good indicator the team believes he was a mistake. So when the Flyers wanted him, Tampa Bay jumped.

Lawton said the move, and sending wing Jason Ward to AHL Norfolk, which together cleared about $3-million of cap space, was not necessarily a prelude to a bigger deal to come. It does give the team more flexibility, though, and it's crazy to think Lawton is going to stand pat.

The calculation, though, needs to be better.

Tampa Bay Lightning's next move must be well-calculated 11/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 5:01pm]
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