Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Tampa Bay Tribune,
But the real work is going to come in improving the goaltending. The same questions that surrounded the team at the end of the season remain today. And, really, is there anyway to really improve the position right now? Can you look at the free-agent crop that has names such as Brian Boucher, Mathieu Garon, Ed Belfour, Kevin Weekes, Robert Esche or Curtis Joseph?
About the only name that could be enticing is Dominik Hasek, assuming he doesn’t re-sign with Detroit before free agency begins Sunday.
The goaltending has to be better for this team to be better. It could come from within, as Holmqvist showed signs last season, or Denis could bounce back and show the consistency the team needs. And Ramo is a highly touted, but unproven, 21-year-old.
Either way, there is no easy solution to turning the team into a legitimate contender this season.
From AP via the Miami Herald,
An equipment manager for the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning thinks he lost his NHL championship ring in South Carolina while changing a flat tire along Interstate 95.
Vincent Humphries put the ring in his pocket so he wouldn’t scratch it, but realized about a mile down the road that the ring was gone.
“I’m sick,” said Humphries, who lost the diamond-studded ring Tuesday night on his way to Florida from Myrtle Beach. “It’s the only memento I have in my life to pass on.”
Humphries searched the area where he thought he changed the flat for about four hours with a small flashlight, but had no luck.
From Brian Biggane in the Palm Beach Post,
This weekend could go a long way toward determining the Panthers’ future, particularly in goal, where coach and GM Jacques Martin is expected to pursue a handful of options. One that hasn’t gotten on the radar as yet deserves mention.
Anaheim figures to be in excellent position to defend its first Stanley Cup next season, as long as it can retain its key players. But recent rumors have had Scott Niedermayer mulling retirement; if that happens, it would leave a significant hole in the Ducks’ defense.
Anaheim GM Brian Burke has likely asked Niedermayer for a decision by this weekend so he can address that potential need. And he may find a trading partner in Martin.
continued… (*Salei for Bryzgalov is considered…)
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
League sources say Tampa GM Jay Feaster might be willing to offer centre Brad Richards and his $7.8-million salary (all terms US) for each of the next four years to the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes.
Those teams hold the first three picks in the draft, to be held at Nationwide Arena.
The 27-year-old Richards is one of Tampa’s top forwards with 25 goals and 45 assists for 70 points in 82 games last season.
But he could be expendable after the Bolts acquired centre Chris Gratton from the Florida Panthers last week and Feaster needs to clear some salary to find a way to bring in a goaltender.
from the Tampa Bay Lightning,
The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired center Chris Gratton from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2007 or 2008 NHL Entry Draft (Florida’s option), Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.
From Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail,
Lecavalier also addressed a question about the Lightning’s future plans and the speculation that one of the big three – him, Martin St. Louis or Brad Richards – might be traded for salary-cap reasons.
“This week, they announced they’re going to keep the budget the same, or maybe even bring it up,” said Lecavalier. “You never know in hockey what can happen, but from what I hear and from what meetings I’ve had at the end of the year, we’ll keep the same guys.”
more… *on Lecavalier winning the Maurice Richard Trophy
from the St. Peterburg Times,
The Lightning general manager got word this week from owner Bill Davidson that payroll will not be cut, as was feared, and might even end up higher than last season’s $44-million.
In a perfect world, Feaster said, that would end speculation one of his high-priced stars - Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards or Dan Boyle - will have to be traded.
“It should, ” Feaster said Thursday. “I hope it does. It’s one of the things Feaster and Davidson talked about. He likes those players. He recognizes we’re very close. He’s bullish on this team.”
For more talk on off-season movement, check out Spector and make sure to go back a few days too.
“Associate coach Craig Ramsay has been relieved of his coaching duties with the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Club,” executive vice president and general manager Jay Feaster said. “We thank Craig for his seven years of service to this franchise and for his hard work and dedication in helping us become Stanley Cup Champions.
“Head coach John Tortorella has begun the process of identifying and interviewing coaching candidates to serve as his top assistant. No timetable has been placed on filling the position.”
added 12:34pm, from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In a curious and unusual move that means John Tortorella will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s coach for the foreseeable future, the NHL team essentially fired long-time associate coach Craig Ramsay today. Officially, Ramsay was “relieved of his duties” by general manager Jay Feaster. This was an extraordinary development for a lot of reasons, beginning with the fact that Ramsay was one of the NHL’s highest-paid assistants (hence, the “associate” coach designation).
from the St. Peterburg Times,
“I concur we have a very good core here,” Feaster said. “It’s a core capable of winning a championship. So from that standpoint our window of opportunity is still open. That’s something we’d like to take advantage of.”
The question is, will Bill Davidson, owner of Lightning parent company Palace Sports & Entertainment, provide the money to acquire a No. 1 goaltender and a scoring wing, the biggest holes on a team eliminated Sunday from the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season?
Feaster said his preliminary budget for next season is $40-million. That is about $4-million less than this season and could be up to $9-million below the yet-to-be-set league salary cap.
Coaches and players said this is no time to pull back, though CEO Tom Wilson said Palace Sports will lose $9-million on its Tampa operation this fiscal year.
The Hockey News comments on yesterday’s action…
•I’d imagine the Lightning’s loss will mean one of their big three (Richards, Martin St-Louis, Vincent Lecavalier) will be on the move this summer. Tampa GM Jay Feaster can’t go into the 2007-08 season so top-heavy in payroll and he needs to improve his defense.
•I don’t buy the theory that older teams tend to wear down during overtime or late in a series. The Red Wings looked young and strong throughout the overtime of Game 6, the seventh-plus period of hockey they played in about 33 hours. A younger Calgary team looked wasted at times. Durability is all about conditioning and drive, not age.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org