Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Yzerman: Trade for vet possible

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Steve Yzerman would much rather use organizational depth to hold the fort until star C Steven Stamkos returns from a broken right leg.

But the Lightning general manager said Friday that depending on his evaluation of how the team plays, trading for a veteran "is something to consider, for sure."

Yzerman was clear he is not interested in trading younger players for older. He also indicated he wants more time to evaluate and no trade is imminent.

"We talk about this all through the summer and training camp: Some of these young players are going to get the opportunity to play," Yzerman said. "They've had two good years in the American League, and they're all doing pretty well."

Coach Jon Cooper said the Kid Line of rookies Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik was Tampa Bay's best in Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Sharks.

Still, the Lightning has seven rookies on the roster and nine players who spent part or all of last season with AHL Syracuse. That is a lot of inexperience for an NHL roster that lost its catalyst when it lost Stamkos.

"I watched that game (Thursday), and you can mention any of those young guys. They were fine," Yzerman said. "Everybody is going to make mistakes. For a lot of them, it's the first time in these buildings. They have to go through it at some point. I'd rather they go through it now. I think they all have proven they are capable of playing in the NHL and are ready to play in the NHL. We have to let them play."

The bottom line on any trade?

"I'm not going to add a veteran just to add a veteran," Yzerman said. "It's got to make us better. … and (I have to consider) what I have to give up to get that player."

CONNOLLY DEMOTED: After 10 games with just one goal and zero assists, Brett Connolly, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2010 draft, was demoted to Syracuse.

"Right now, not much is happening for him," Yzerman said. "He's just struggling to find his game. He's not getting things accomplished. We just feel it's better for him to go back and continue his development."

"I wasn't getting as much accomplished as I know I can," Connolly, 21, said. "I have to be better. I understand their reasoning."

The lack of production since Connolly was called up Oct. 31 was surprising. He had 31 goals last season for Syracuse, and his four training-camp goals this season tied Stamkos for the team lead. But Connolly did not play well offensively or defensively with Tampa Bay and was minus-5.

Yzerman said the focus "short term" is for Connolly "to get his confidence and feel good about himself and to get back to doing the things he did well in preseason and all of last year."

STAMKOS UPDATE: Yzerman didn't offer much on Stamkos' rehabilitation but said, "He's doing good. He's up and moving around reasonably well, so he's doing fine."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning played 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Ducks. … LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie was scratched. … Nine Tampa Bay players were not born when Ducks star Teemu Selanne, 43, was drafted by the Jets in 1988.

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