NHL Free Agency 2013: Breaking Down Tampa Bay Lightning's Wish List
The second part of the giving offseason starts Friday with the beginning of the free-agent period, and teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning are taking names for their wish list. With buyouts adding to an already deep free-agent pool, the Lightning will have plenty of players to choose from and over $8.5 million in salary-cap space.
After the Bolts used one of the compliance buyouts on former captain Vincent Lecavalier (now with Philadelphia), they freed up some much-needed money. Drafting Jonathan Drouin with the third pick in this year’s draft, the Lightning focus on free agency to improve.
With a fairly complete roster, Tampa Bay has a short wish list in the 2013 offseason.
Cheap, Valuable Defense
Tampa Bay has a fairly young defense. Only Sami Salo and Eric Brewer are over 30—excluding Mattias Ohlund. Three D-men are under 25: Keith Aulie, Radko Gudas and Victor Hedman.
The Lightning could use more depth on the blue line—always—because that is where they seem to struggle most. They have Andrej Sustr, who could be a useful addition in his first full season and make an impact.
Adding another NHL-ready defenseman to include on the seven-man rotation would help. Players like Carlo Colaiacovo or even Michal Rozsival would be good depth additions at the right price.
A Physical Forward
The Bolts have lost some grit this offseason—and there wasn’t much to lose. The Lightning let Benoit Pouliot go and lost a physical edge. Even the loss of Vincent Lecavalier’s physicality—at times— could be a tough thing to replace. Re-signing Pierre-Cedric Labrie will help, but outside help is necessary.
Riding in on his trusty steed is David Clarkson—formerly of the New Jersey Devils—to potentially save the day. He not only has a goal-scoring touch (30-goal season in 2011-12), but he also has a physical edge with 770 penalty minutes in just over five full seasons. He had 170 hits in 2010-11 and 169 in 2011-12.
An Experienced Defenseman
The Lightning’s wish list is fairly short this season. The goaltending and production forward pipelines are fairly full. Defense is gaining youthful depth as well.
However, someone needs to mentor the young players on the blue line. The Lightning haven’t tasted much success, with the exception of 2011. Bringing in a winner is crucial—again tying back to the loss of Lecavalier.
He should garner a ton of attention and offers, but two-time Stanley Cup champion Rob Scuderi would be a great addition to the Bolts. He isn’t going to produce much, but he stays at home and has enough experience to calm any goaltender’s nerves.
Scuderi should get a long look from the Lightning this offseason.