The Lightning enter Saturday's noon opening of free agency hoping to cross off the two main items off its wish list:
A top-four defenseman.
A top-nine wing.
It certainly looks like the Lightning is closing in on veteran defenseman Dan Girardi, 33, the long-time former Ranger in talks with Tampa Bay. But I don't think Tampa Bay is done making moves on its blueline. Not sure Girardi is a guy who upgrades the top-four, and on an expected short-term, relatively inexpensive deal, you have more room to make moves (around $20 million in cap space). You almost have to make a deal, with a glut of eight NHL-ready defensemen (if you include Mikhail Sergachev). And that doesn't take into account if the Lightning is still after Kevin Shattenkirk, a reunion I'm not ready to rule out yet.
So stay tuned on the blueline, there could be more cooking.
But GM Steve Yzerman also would like to add a wing, right or left, to add to his top nine. And the Lightning is in the hunt for veteran right wing Justin Williams, aka "Mr. Game 7." Williams, 35, is coming off a 24-goal season with the Capitals. He's a proven secondary scorer, a clutch playoff performer (former Conn Smythe winner) and a leader in the room, which could add to Tampa Bay's young forward group.
The Lightning is one of many teams to show interest in Williams during this six-day courting window, with the Stars, Leafs, Islanders, Flyers among them. What's Williams looking for?
"First and foremost, at this point, you want your family to be comfortable," Williams told the Washington Post this week. "That's probably number one on the list, and then number two is a chance to win. I feel like I've got a lot of game left. I've got a lot of will to win left in me, and I'm still productive. I want to go to a team that has a chance to win."
The Lightning missed the playoffs last season, but with a healthy Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, and an upgraded blueline, there's no question it can be the kind of contender Williams is looking for.
Other veteran wings available are Thomas Vanek, whom the Lightning hasn't contacted, Alex Radulov (who is likely too expensive), Chris Kunitz and Jaromir Jagr. Patrick Marleau is out there, but it sounds like him and Joe Thornton could be back in San Jose.
Should be an interesting 24 hours.