Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Corey Long at NHL.com,
Will Ben Bishop be the No. 1 goalie by the end of the season? Bishop is the Lightning's top goalie going into the season, but he also is one of their most valuable trade assets.
Bishop is signed through the 2016-17 season at a $5.95 million salary-cap charge, according to war-on-ice.com, and would be highly valued on the trade market after his performance during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (13-11, 2.18 goals-against average, .921 save percentage). Depending on how negotiations with Stamkos turn out, the Lightning may need to free up money to secure contracts with other players in the future.
Bishop may become expendable if the Lightning see enough early in the season from highly touted prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, 21, who started Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with Bishop out because of a groin injury.
Will Jonathan Drouin live up to the hype? It would be safe to say Drouin, 20, had a rookie season to forget. He fractured his right thumb during training camp and missed the entire preseason; it didn't get much better from there.
Drouin, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, had four goals and 28 assists in 70 regular-season games but never seemed to find a comfortable spot on the ice. He played in six of 26 Lightning playoff games.
The low point of his season may have come in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens. With forward Ryan Callahan unavailable because of an emergency appendectomy, Cooper elected to play Jonathan Marchessault, who had played in two regular-season games, as Callahan's replacement. Cooper later explained his choice of Marchessault rather than Drouin by saying he went with the lineup that gave the Lightning the best chance to win.
Drouin's fresh start begins at training camp. He will be given another chance to become the playmaker that Stamkos could use on the first line, but he'll have to show that he's made improvements on and off the ice.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Training camp is so close you can almost feel it, so it is time to shake more of the rust off and do a little rambling.
Pretty darned good summer for Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who stole Dougie Hamilton away from the Boston Bruins at the draft and then locked him in long-term while adding useful forward Michael Frolik, a former Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks. Then, earlier this week Treliving took care of priority No. 1: Locking up heart-and-soul captain Mark Giordano to a very salary cap-friendly six-year deal worth an average of $6.75 million per season. It's a deal that gives Treliving lots of cap-room flexibility moving forward, even if there's always a risk in such a long-term deal when Giordano will have just turned 33 when the deal kicks in next October. Many believe the Flames are due a step back this season after a surprising run to the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. But that run was accomplished without Hamilton and Giordano, who was out with a torn biceps tendon. Nothing is guaranteed in the wild Western Conference, but Treliving has his Flames well-positioned to return to the playoffs, not just this season but for the foreseeable future.
One byproduct of the Giordano signing is that the attention on top-end players entering their contract years is amped up. Tops on that list of course is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, followed closely by Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. The slower-than-expected rise in the salary cap coupled with benchmark contracts like those extended to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane by the Blackhawks last summer that kick in this season has made life more difficult for all GMs, but specifically for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Locking up Stamkos and Kopitar are obvious priorities for the Bolts and the Kings respectively and we assume the deals will get done, but the longer it takes, the more speculation will percolate that things are amiss.
continued with more topics...
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
Uncertainty about Stamkos’ long-term status is a distraction to this team, this franchise and this player. Do the Lightning really need a distracted captain? Didn’t they try that with Marty St. Louis?
I’m not crazy concerned yet.
The Lightning need Stamkos. I think Stamkos needs the Lightning.
He’s a generational scorer. They’re a young contender.
But there are a lot of moving parts. Maybe no villains — yet — but moving parts.
Clearly, Don Meehan, whose agency represents Stamkos, wants to break the bank, set the bar high. Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane high. Those Cup winners’ contract extensions are eight years apiece, $84 million, a $10.5 million cap hit for each of them.
Wonder how the Blackhawks feel about Kane’s off-ice troubles right about now.
Where were we?
Then there’s the Lightning side, where Yzerman has to factor in looming costs.
from the Tampa Bay Lightning,
FOX’s Sun Sports, the regional television home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, today announced Brian Engblom has joined its roster of Lightning on-air talent for the 2015-16 season. In his new role, Engblom will serve as color analyst for all Lightning television broadcasts.
Alongside play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham, Engblom will provide a seasoned voice to Lightning’ television broadcasts. Prior to joining Sun Sports, Engblom served as “Inside the Glass” analyst on both NBC and NBC Sports Network broadcasts, as well as the network’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. During his time at NBC, Engblom has also served as an analyst on NHL Live, NBCSN’s pre and post-game NHL studio show. During that time he also served as color analyst for Winnipeg Jets games on TSN in Canada.
“I am thrilled to be going to such a terrific organization on and off the ice,” Engblom said. “I’ve missed working for a team and that affiliation is something that I really haven’t had in my 20 years broadcasting at the national level. Lightning fans are fortunate to have a young, terrific team. The next step is the most fun, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
from Justin Bourne of The Score,
The story so far is similar to how it went with Mike Babcock in Detroit. They were “in no rush” in the offseason to get a deal done, then he “didn’t want to discuss a contract in-season,” then he was “out the door buh-bye gone.”
We’ve had our first Stamkos story - he’s in no rush, not on any particular timeline, the agent needs to talk to Steven before he can talk to Steve (so … just do that then, right?), and here we are.
If Stamkos doesn’t sign this summer, and doesn’t look like he’s going to lock something down in-season - meaning he wants to go to UFA - Steve Yzerman is going to have a real pickle on his hands.
On the one hand, Stamkos is abso-effing-lutely irreplaceable, and Tampa Bay is abso-effing-lutely going to be a Stanley Cup contender next season, if not a favorite. The Atlantic doesn’t look all that impressive, meaning the Lightning could have a President’s Trophy type season next year, if health allows.
BUT, you cannot let Stamkos walk for nothing in pursuit of that elusive Stanley Cup.
Just under 3 1/2 minutes of slow motion action...
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
"We said in September that we'd sit down at the end of the year and get that done, and that's my intention," Yzerman said. "We've got a good team, he's our captain, and it's our intention to get him signed to a long-term deal."
Stamkos said he isn't too worried about it, believing that the contract talks will "take care of itself." He loves the future of this young team, saying this playoff run was the most fun he's ever had playing hockey.
"I've said it all along, I want to win a championship with this group," Stamkos said. "It's been a great ride this year. I know we'll have some talks, whether it's in the next day or weeks, I don't know. But we'll definitely be getting something worked out hopefully shortly."
Stamkos knows it can be a "distraction" of he goes into next season without having a long-term deal, as it'll become a big story, especially with the media in Canada with regards to the star center returning to his hometown Maple Leafs.
"We have a lot of time in this summer," he said. "I'm not worried at all about that."
from Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune,
You can argue that many things are more important to a city than the presence of high-profile sports teams. Good schools, job opportunities, public safety, a decent transportation system, they’re all vital to a community’s well-being.
Still, those don’t bring people together in public celebration and purpose the way the Tampa Bay Lightning just did. They don’t turn strangers into friends the way a Lightning blue T-shirt could. They don’t keep you in front of the TV late at night, your fingers dug into the sides of your chair.
And they don’t cause people to stand sweat-soaked in Tampa’s summertime sauna, the way 300 or more did Tuesday afternoon to welcome the Bolts back from Chicago at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks, but they were greeted by chanting, cheering fans and signs that said things like “Hold Your Heads Up!”
Name something else that could cause an estimated 19,000 fans to come to Amalie Arena on Monday night to watch the game on the mammoth scoreboard. That was nearly double the crowd the Tampa Bay Rays drew for a home game about 20 miles away in St. Petersburg, and that raises a question Tampa and the surrounding area have grappled with for years: Are these teams worth the cost?
A point needs to be made up front about the economic impact big-time sports has on a community: ‘Tis a trifle.
from Katie Baker of Grantland,
Stamkos, who didn’t score a goal in the final, kept repeating that he’d been feeling great that night. He kept returning to all the chances that hadn’t been converted to a championship. That evening alone he’d hit a post and been stuffed on a breakaway by Corey Crawford. His coach, Jon Cooper, said he felt sick for the guy. “I know he’s going to put a bunch of weight on his shoulders of why we didn’t score,” Cooper said. “Nobody scored. It wasn’t just Stammer.”
Jonathan Drouin wept into a Gatorade towel, then balled it up and gnawed on it; he declined through tears to speak to the press. Anton Stralman took off his shirt but stopped there, stunned, his lower pads still on. Bishop put his head in his hands and stayed like that for a long time. Victor Hedman shuffled around the room embracing anyone he encountered, from teammates to lost-in-thought equipment staff. Cedric Paquette sat down on a folding chair, was quiet for a moment, then took off his hat and spiked it on the floor. Most of the Lightning players stayed in the showers, where the water might drown out the nearby sounds of Chicago’s whooping celebration, their third in six years, an embarrassment of riches that frankly seemed unfair.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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