Lecavalier

 

Tampa Bay actually had a pretty decent campaign. Certainly better than anyone had expected. But that wasn’t good enough to save the jobs of GM Brian Lawton and Coach Rick Tocchet. A new owner is in town and Jeff Vinik saw the problem right away. Uncertainty, instability – an overall culture of dysfunction. So while Tocchet did an acceptable job as a new coach in not only getting a team closer to the postseason, but also turning Steve Downie into quite a player – he was part of the slate that needed to be cleaned. No real complaints about Lawton either, but to change a culture the change must be sweeping and it must start at the top. So what does all this mean in fantasy circles?

 

Vinik brought in Steve Yzerman to be the new GM. He knew what he wanted and he went after it. Yzerman was actually rumoured to have turned the job down but Vinik kept bringing him back to the table until he convinced him. Normally, I frown upon ex-jocks taking up a management position – a position that needs business strength more than hockey expertise – but in this case, it was the right move. While still very new to the business of managing a team, Yzerman is probably going to be a fine GM. After all, he trained under the best in Detroit under Ken Holland. But more importantly, Yzerman brings stability and respect.

 

The current players on the roster feel better about the future. Unrestricted free agents will take the team seriously. Other general managers are clear on who they are negotiating with. The chain of command is clear. Yzerman would not change cities like that without being given carte blanche. Fans in Florida will notice. This will absolutely make a difference.

 

So with the culture and the future now positive and stable, how will they move forward? With a salary cap increase, the team is looking at about $22.5 million in cap space for next season. The signed players fill the following depth chart as such:

 

Martin St. Louis – Steven Stamkos – RFA

Ryan Malone – Vincent Lecavalier – space

Space – space - RFA

Todd Fedoruk – space – space

 

Andrej Meszaros – Victor Hedman

Mattias Ohlund – Matt Walker

RFA - space

Matt Lashoff – Matt Smaby

 

Mike Smith

Space

 

The RFA’s are the three restricted free agents that I expect them to sign – Steve Downie, Mike Lundin and Ted Purcell. The team could also re-sign Paul Ranger and Vladimir Mihalik, but if this team really does transform itself on the ice as much as in the front office, then don’t count on it. So Tampa Bay needs to fill seven roster spots, plus three depth spots either from within or through free agency or trade. There is nothing glaring in the pipeline, so trade and free agency are the likely options.

 

Which brings us to Vinny Lecavalier. No longer the franchise, but it would be a mistake to write him off. He just turned 30 and despite the fact that he has only missed six games in the last four years, he has been playing through terrible shoulder and wrist problems. He’s had surgery on each, but there is a recovery period and as he recovered his fantasy owners have been bailing on him. But make no mistake, the Lecavalier who tallied 200 points in two seasons (2006-07, 2007-08) is still there. October will be the first time in three years that he is playing pain free with full mobility. Furthermore, all the uncertainty will be behind him. Yzerman will either trade him, or he will make it clear that he will not be dealt. More importantly – the matter will settled. That’s another intangible that Yzerman brings to the table. People will believe him. No more distractions.

 

Lecavalier will have his best season in three years. Mark it. And if Stamkos gets 95 points and Lecavalier gets 95 points, what does this mean for the wingers? It will mean a repeat of strong campaigns from St. Louis, Malone and Downie. It will mean a strong year from whomever they sign as a free agent to take the spot of the departing Alex Tanguay (who is an unrestricted free agent). It will mean that Purcell is a nice dark horse.

 

The domino effect will be this – contention for the playoffs, more W’s for the goaltenders, more production from the likes of Hedman. This is an important offseason for Tampa Bay, but I have faith for the first time in years.

 


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Randall said:

The Hockey Hitman
good write-up No doubt Mike Lundin will be back, as will Steve Downie and I imagine Teddy Purcell as well if for no other reason than he still could be an asset given the right situation. He played well in his brief stint there last season.

Nobody has said anything about where Paul Ranger went last season, why he didn't play, and I have concerns about that whole situation. If he came back it would instantly upgrade the D, be like a free agent signing.

I agree that next year Vinny will return to form or pretty darn close to it, I imagine Vinny will concentrate more on a two way game as he steps into a 1A/1B center role w/ Stamkos down the middle who will be told to score on every shift... smilies/wink.gif

It is a great time to be a Lightning fan again, I hope they don't make me regret saying that.
June 14, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Lockedge said:

lockedge
... I can't wait to see Mike Smith next season, to see if he's put his injuries behind him because it's my opinion that he was rushed in and paid the price for it. They should have let him rest until much later, let him get up to gear, and put him back in mid-late december. That would have given them a month before the olympics to determine if he's still needing some adjustments and if he's healthy. They'd have a little while to do whatever was necessary until play resumed again, and then he'd be up to full speed.

So I'm thinking Smith will return to form next year. I'm of the opinion that he overachieved slightly his last successful stint with the Bolts, but he shouldn't be far off. He's got great focus and mental fortitude, and it was clear he was lacking focus up until around the end of the season where he was visibly better.

I think with a healthy Smith, Lecavalier, some decent FA pickups/trades, and a well run camp, they could potentially contend for a playoff spot.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Chad said:

tryhard87
Re: Trade for Kaberle You're not going to get a 6th overall pick for Kaberle even if he signs an extension with Tampa as part of the deal. Let alone add in Ashton or Purcell. As a Leafs fan I wish we could but in reality I know a top 10 pick is not going to happen for just Kaberle.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Chris said:

5hole
P.S....lol A thought. with Malone and Downie as there muscle i would try to keep Purcell seeing as he is more of a Natural goal scorer, let him play 1st and 2nd line until they figure out who he has better chemistry with and Trade: Carter Ashton & there 1st in this draft for Kaberle. Ashtons got that Generic size and game Burke likes, sound's like a done deal to me!
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Chris said:

5hole
Also Going after Turco could be good if he'll come with a decent price tag. He and Smith have a history together in Dallas, maybe Stevie can get a healthy competition going between them and revive there games?
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Chris said:

5hole
K & K Do you see Mr.Y going after Kaberle? He's a Premier D-Man that would kick that PP up a few notches and he's also signed to a nice Contract. Maybe something like Purcell and a 1st? There's also the Kovalchuk Option. I think he would be a nice addition to Lecalviers line, but would Stevie be willing to be tied down for 10yrs having the most expensive line in the NHL ????
I would do the Kaberle Move personally.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... I think the key with TB will be consistent goaltending. They have a solid defense on paper, and lots of interesting pieces up front.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Cancukk said:

Canuckk
... How about Kurtis Foster? Chances are he won't be re-signed at this point, but his absence does leave a bit of a hole in the TB lineup, especially on the PP. He had a career year and possesses a scary-hard slap shot and pretty decent offensive instincts. And when needed, he was played as a forward, too. Pretty versatile and useful guy to have, and TB will have to look at either re-signing him soon or finding another PP QB to replace him. I think this is something you should consider adding to the article smilies/wink.gif

I do like the shape that TB is in though. I actually predicted a playoff spot for them last season and they almost made it before collapsing towards the end. If Lecavalier can restore his past glory and net 90+ points again, and they get some decent goaltending from Mike Smith and whoever else they sign, this team will be in the playoffs next spring.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Larry said:

Rollie1967
not a terrible roster Yzerman has his hands full for sure- some bloated contracts (Lecavalier,Ohlund,Meszaros) and not much in the system unless Carter Ashton is ready (at 19yrs old)or one of their goalies is ready, but I cant see them going with a rookie as a backup when Smith has been so lacklustre- his GAA has regressed each of the last 2 seasons and he has yet to win more than 15 games in a season. For a player in his prime years- thats not a good sign,he maybe an adequate backup- but IMO thats about it.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Point taken, article adjusted accordingly smilies/wink.gif
June 13, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Solid piece, Dobber. Only point of contention for me - Mike Lundin will definitely be re-signed. He was probably Tampa's best defenseman for the final 30 games of the season.
June 13, 2010
Votes: +1
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