Early Look at Good Free-Agent Fits for Tampa Bay Lightning This Offseason
The Tampa Bay Lightning are preparing for the offseason with questions to answer and holes to fill. The upcoming offseason will allow the Lightning to look for free agents. There are a few names that should be targeted.
Head coach Jon Cooper and general manager Steve Yzerman has given a number of prospects a chance at the NHL level and an audition for a roster spot next season. Tampa Bay may have to look outside the organization to fill holes. Free agency allows the Bolts to improve without giving up valuable assets.
Here is a list of pending free agents that the Lightning should target based on production, positional needs and organizational fit.
Derek Roy is currently a part of the Vancouver Canucks. He has struggled for the Canucks and Dallas Stars—posting just 25 points through 36 games. Depending on how he does for Vancouver in the playoffs, he may part ways with the Canucks and look elsewhere.
Roy has started to play on the wing due to struggles at center. If he could play the wing, the 29-year-old would be a great fit for the Lightning. He played wing in Buffalo but is a more natural center.
Roy could fit in nicely if the Lightning part ways with Benoit Pouliot or Martin St. Louis retires in the next couple years.
With Mattias Ohlund’s career nearing it’s end, the Lightning may exercise the buyout (if healthy). Or, when he retires, free up some future salary cap space. White may be looking for a warm reception, and Tampa Bay’s porous defense could use a career plus-46 man.
Carl Gunnarsson is the type of defenseman whom the Lightning need to bring in to stabilize the blue line. Gunnarsson will be a restricted free agent for the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason and carries a $1.325 million salary cap hit.
He deserves a new contract and a slight raise, but he won’t be a $4 million man. He could be an affordable option for the Lightning, and they may be able to send a solid prospect to the Leafs in return.
Gunnarsson is a solid skater with great puck-moving abilities. He isn’t anything too flashy, but he does his job defensively, and Tampa Bay’s young goaltenders would be grateful for him.
Versatility is crucial for success in Tampa Bay’s offensive system. Valtteri Filppula is a versatile forward who can play every position and produce. He put up 66 points in Detroit last season and has 15 this season.
Filppula is a solid faceoff man as well. He has won 52 percent of his career draws. Filppula is an unrestricted free agent and carries a $3 million hit.
He could be a great replacement for Pouliot and a good fit on a line with other European players like Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik.
Chris Tanev will be a restricted free agent with the Vancouver Canucks this season, but could be worth approaching. Tanev plays a similar game to Marc-Andre Bergeron. He is finally finding a consistent role in Vancouver, but could be looking for more minutes elsewhere.
He is 6’2”, 190 pounds and a smart, safe defenseman. He would be a solid pair with Matt Carle playing in a stay-at-home role and stabilizing the back end. He is an extremely hard worker and could be a good fit with Coach Cooper’s system.