Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Tampa Bay keeps wheeling and dealing

06/30/2014 at 1:20am EDT

As Paul noted, the Tampa Bay Lightning went and snagged Sam Gagner from the Edmonton Oilers for Teddy Purcell, sending Purcell's $4.5 million cap hit to Edmonton for Gagner's $4.8 million deal (all figures from Capgeek). Then the Bolts flipped Gagner to the Arizona Coyotes (who were likely looking to replace the behaviorally-challenged Mike Ribeiro), and shuffled B.J. Corombeen's $1.15 million salary off to Arizona as well, receiving all of a sixth-round draft pick in return.

Then, while some of you were sleeping, the Lightning made another trade, sending (per Sportsnet) Nate Thompson and his $1.6 million cap hit to Anaheim for a 6th-round pick.

The team did bring in Jason Garrison's $4.6 million cap hit during the first day of the draft, but it looks like the Lightning are trying to do something big, but ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports that there be cap weirdness afoot:

This stuff happened so quickly that even Capgeek hasn't had a chance to catch up, but the Bolts have a little short of $9 million in cap space now. Who are they going after? Sportsnet's Chris Johnston believes it might be a familiar name...

But ESPN's Scott Burnside believes that the Niskanen-Boyle-Ehrhoff trio might have something to do with this:

In terms of salary cap issues, Purcell and Gagner make roughly the same. Purcell makes $4.5 million through 2015-16, while Gagner’s cap hit is $4.8 million through 2015-16.

The moving of three players (Crombeen makes $1.15 million and is under contract through the 2014-15 season) frees up cap space for the Lightning, who added Jason Garrison during the draft weekend and recently signed Ryan Callahan to a new six-year contract worth $5.8 million annually.

It's also believed GM Steve Yzerman may also make use of the extra cap space to go after another defenseman once free agency begins on July 1.

The Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith asked Yzerman, who's already bought out Ryan Malone, what was up...

With the moves, and the likely decision to put defenseman Mattias Ohlund on long-term injured reserve, the Lightning will have about $11 million in cap space, potentially targeting an elite free-agent defenseman and backup goalie.

!!

"Just because we have cap space now and cash available, we're not going to act out of desperation," Yzerman said. "But certainly we're going to inquire and see if there's anything that makes us better."

And Smith postulates that the Lightning are looking to use what cap space they've got...

The Lightning could add another forward in free agency or via trade; Yzerman said the Lightning will go with a 13- or 14-forward roster next season. It lost some grit in Thompson and Crombeen, so it could look at former Lightning grinder Dominic Moore, who can be a free agent Tuesday.

Things could get even crazier the next couple of days. With the added cap flexibility, Tampa Bay has put itself in a better position if it wants to get in the bidding for coveted potential free-agent defensemen Matt Niskanen, Anton Stralman and former Lightning standout Dan Boyle.

Yzerman said he has used the free-agent interview period since Wednesday to speak with potential free agents and has a good idea of who is interested and what the costs might be.

Noting that the Bolts needing a back-up goalie, too:

On the backup goaltender front, there are plenty of veterans available, including Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun and Tim Thomas, and there are younger options, such as Chad Johnson. The Lightning didn't make a qualifying offer to Anders Lindback but hasn't ruled out him returning.

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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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