5 Ideal Free-Agent Signings for Tampa Bay Lightning
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With the Stanley Cup Finals in full swing, the 28 teams that aren’t participating are anxiously awaiting the fast approaching free-agency period. Free agency starts July 5 and, for teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, it will be a tricky and crucial time to improve.
With the lower salary cap ($64.3 million), the Lightning don’t have much room to work with. With nearly $62 million in cap payroll already handed out, the checkbook will be awfully tight this offseason.
General manager Steve Yzerman will have some difficult questions to ask. How can he improve a team that finished 28th last season with just over $2 million to spend?
Assuming a signing would also mean the release or trade of additional funds, here is a list of five ideal free-agent targets for Tampa Bay.
All numbers are provided by CapGeek.com.
Despite injury issues, Latendresse could be a nice third-line addition for the Lightning.
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Most recently with the Ottawa Senators, Guillaume Latendresse will be testing the market in a few weeks. He had just 10 points in 27 games this season, but a bigger concern is his durability.
Latendresse has played 80 games in a season just once during his seven-year career. He has played less than 30 in four of them—including the shortened season.
A former second-round pick, he garnered high hopes in Minnesota. Unfortunately, those never panned out. Another change of scenery could bring some success.
His last deal was one-year, $1.25 million, which makes him extremely affordable.
Raffi Torres is a polarizing player, but a good guy to have on your team.
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Hockey fans around the league could cringe at the thought of bringing Raffi Torres into the arena. However, he would be one addition the Bolts should look at for his physical presence alone.
Tampa Bay needs to get tougher this offseason as they move into a division with physical teams like Boston and Toronto. Few teams, if any, would mess with the Lightning superstars knowing that Torres was lurking on the ice.
He has expressed interest in staying with San Jose, but his physical game isn’t so hard to support when it’s on your team.
Coming off a two-year, $3.5 million deal, Torres is also affordable and adds to the physical presence the Lightning need.
Ryan Whitney is a crafty veteran that would be a nice mentor for younger D-men.
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In case anyone doesn’t know, the Lightning need help defensively. Former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Whitney could provide some stability.
Whitney has had an up-and-down career since being drafted fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2002. At his best, he was a 59-point, plus-nine guy. At his worst, he’s a 23-point, minus-14 guy.
He is coming off a six-year, $24 million deal that didn’t live up to expectation. He may be a steal for the Lightning at the right price.
Ian White's time in Detroit appears to be over. Why not give him a look with a defenseman like Victor Hedman.
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Ian White’s time in Detroit is coming to a close. He is looking for his sixth team since being drafted in 2002. White brings something the Lightning need on the blue line—a positive plus/minus rating.
He is a career plus-46 in 503 games, including a career-best plus-23 with Detroit in 2011-12. He played in a warmer climate briefly for San Jose, but may not be too open to doing that again.
At 29 years old, White has some years left in his career. He earned $2.875 million per season in his last deal—not a bad consideration for the Bolts.
Gragnani has never found full-time work in the NHL. He might be a good depth defenseman to add to the roster.
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Adding a restricted free agent to the mix, Marc-Andre Gragnani will be an RFA with the Carolina Hurricanes. No longer divisional opponents, the Hurricanes shouldn’t have much of an issue letting Gragnani go.
A third-round pick in 2005, he has yet to find consistent work in the NHL. He appeared in just one game for Carolina last season. A former AHL defenseman of the year, Gragnani has skill—he just lacks the numbers.
Carolina gave up a one-year, $800,000 contract last year. He might be worth adding to the training camp roster to see if he can improve the Lightning defense—especially at that price.