FAF: Wrap Up

TampaBayLogoNew.jpg image by DaveLikeGolf

The Bolts made two huge pick ups during the initial flurry of the free agent signing period. GM Brian Lawton ponied up and signed stud defenseman Mattias Ohland, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks. The Swede bolsters a blue line in which about 20 different players played the position for the team last year. More importantly, he will serve as a mentor to fellow Swede Viktor Hedman, the draft’s 2nd overall pick.

A 7 year contract seems a bit excessive for a player with injury problems and 33 come October, but he is a proven talent- and any talent is better than the disaster of a defense we had last year.

https://i0.wp.com/proathletesonly.com/news/wp-content/uploads/mattiasohlund.jpg

In addition, Lawton added defenseman Matt Walker, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks. He is solid and tough. You won’t see his name on the score sheet too often, but the Bolts have plenty of firepower for now. If we can work on the transition game, the Lightning could once again return to competitive prowess.

https://i1.wp.com/www.thethirdmanin.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/webassets/MattWalkerEdJovanovski2009TueJan06GlendaleAZYahooSports.jpg

These two moves, as well as bringing back Lukas Krajicek all of the sudden remove the liability tag from the D. If Mike Smith recovers from his concussion, I think we could be in the running for a lower seed in the playoffs. I don’t expect the Lightning to make a big splash from now until the beginning of the season. We are still lacking a back up goalie, and that’s probably the only major move that needs to happen.

logo

Advertisements

FAF: Update

TampaBayLogoNew.jpg image by DaveLikeGolf

All is quiet on the FA front. And I’m surprised to say it could stay that way for a bit. In reading through some articles, OK Hockey was quoted saying that they are going to “tiptoe” into the market this time around. This greatly contrasts the Yankees approach- let’s buy everyone and hope it works out. Hopefully the owners have learned their lesson. Leave that type of manangement to the Steinbrenners- who can actually pull it off.

My favorite quote from the interview with GM Brian Lawton:

“A lot of guys have been calling us to let us know who they have available, an abnormal amount of calls, actually,” Lawton said. “They see Tampa Bay as a desirable place to play and people look at our team and the players we have and us being better than a 29th-place team, a team that they want to be a part of.”

Riiiight. Who wouldn’t want to play in front of the biggest bandwagon community in the US? The only calls I can see Lawton receiving were trade offers for Vinny, Marty and Malone. Attendance absolutely plummetted. We had been in the TOP 5 for the past few years. Perhaps players want to play here, but do the fans want to pay to see them play here? Has the front office received “an abnormal amount” of calls for season ticket renewals? I doubt it.

As I wrote yesterday, we need help on the blue line. And apparently a back up goalie. I wasn’t aware that Kari Ramo had skipped town to go play for the KHL in Russia. At least we still have his rights. Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Tribune Erik Erlendsson has put together a list of who the Bolts are looking at.

Goaltenders 

Ty Conklin, Detroit – Veteran journeyman has proven he’s capable of stepping in and winning games with Pittsburgh and Detroit the past two seasons. 2008-09 salary: $750,000

Scott Clemmensen, New Jersey – Saved the Devils’ season last year by winning 25 games when Martin Brodeur went down; looking for fair opportunity. 2008-09 salary: $500,000

Kevin Weekes, New Jersey – Former Lightning netminder is a reliable backup capable of stepping in should the need arise. 2008-09 salary: $700,000

Craig Anderson, Florida – Took over No. 1 role in Florida at times last season, but might be seeking a chance at a No. 1 job. 2008-09 salary: $525,000

Mathieu Garon, Pittsburgh – Has No. 1 experience despite playing just 19 games last season and was a shootout specialist for Edmonton two seasons ago. 2008-09 salary: $1 million

 

Defensemen

 

Rob Scuderi, Pittsburgh – Stock rose with strong playoffs as a stay-at-home defenseman. 2008-09 salary: $725,000

Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver – Consistent 25- to 30-point producer could be an ideal mentor for fellow Swede Victor Hedman. 2008-09 salary: $3.5 million

Steve Montador, Boston – Two-way 29-year-old also adds element of physicality to his game. 2008-09 salary: $800,000

Philippe Boucher, Pittsburgh – Injuries have limited the former All-Star the past two seasons, but he can still provide solid play; plus he’s a right-handed shot. 2008-09 salary: $2.5 million

Steve Eminger, Florida – Played well during his time with Lightning last season, but he couldn’t crack the lineup for the Panthers, who didn’t give him a qualifying offer. 2008-09 season: $1.2 million

Conklin is a solid goaltender, but for the sake of tradition, he needs to go play for either Philly or Boston so he can start in the Winter Classic. In all seriousness, he’s probably the best bet.

I’m skeptical of Kevin Weekes, just from when he played here in the past. Granted, those teams were God-awful, and he was ok. And well, Clemmenson did step it up this year. It must have been nice to actually have been noticed. I didn’t know Martin Brodeur had a back up… 😉

Anderson and Garon are average at best. I’d like us to take a run at Rolosson. I know, I’m all about Mike Smith. But still, we need someone to push him. I’ll be happy with Conklin.

That list of defensemen is spectacular. If we could afford Ohlund, that would be ideal, but Scuderi/ Montador would be quite acceptable. Boucher’s injuries concern me, but as noted, he was fantastic before.

We’ll see where the day and the upcoming weeks take us.

logo

Free Agent Frenzy!

https://i2.wp.com/www.fantasysportsbusiness.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/nhl_logo.gif

July 1 will most certainly be a hectic day for GMs as the NHL’s free agency period gets under way. Our primary concern this off season here at The Heap is Vincent Lecavalier.

TampaBayLogoNew.jpg image by DaveLikeGolf

It’s no secret to the hockey world that my beloved Tampa Bay Lightning were bought by absolute amateurs. Oren Koules and Len Barrie are running the team into the ground. It began with trading away Dan Boyle, perhaps one of the premier defensemen in the game. Not one of my favorite players, but, as they say, you don’t know what you had until it’s gone. Of course, the greatest blunder? Hiring Barry Melrose as the head coach. The season was lost before it began.

The Bolts had a decent off season in 2008. The fan base was lulled into a false sense of… “Well maybe these guys KNOW what they are doing!” They brought back fan favorite Vinny Prospal (for like the 3rd time). They were able to get Ryan Malone and Mark Recchi from the Pens (Who recently received Stanley Cup post cards n the mail!). Evgeny Artyuhkin returned from a stint with CSKA Moscow. Even Adam Hall and David Koci paid dividends.

Questionable moves: Gary Roberts, Olaf Kolzig (Olie is one of my favorite goalies… was weird not seing him in Capitals garb) Radim Vrbata.

It’s past 12 am, and the city is not on fire, so I presume that Vinny has not been traded. He has probably made a million dollars in these 15 minutes thanks to the contract extension whch just went into effect. Good move… for now. Though I agree with arguments on both sides. Vinny’s been the face, but is it Stamkos’ time? Does Vinny deserve to play with a supporting class of what had become a glorified AHL team?

Or, can we rebuild in time, perhaps by the 2010-11 campaign. We need to make a splash in FA, particularly on defense. If I have to see Mike Smith face 40 shots every game again, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hedman will hopefully be able to make immediate contributions, but we need to get some experience as well. Vaccines against the injury bug would be nice too…

So I’ll keep you up to date with anything big that goes on.

So far: Boumeester to the Flames, Pronger to Philly, and Scott Gomez to the Habs.

logo

You Are Dead To Me!

The feel good story of the 2008 baseball season may end up leaving a bitter aftertaste in the mouths of Rays fans everywhere. Rocco Baldelli, who has been the face of the franchise for many years, has signed a one year contract with the Boston Red Sox Sux. Blasphemy.

Not the sort of news I enjoy coming home to.

What makes this incredible to me is the amount of time the organization gave to Rocco to overcome injury (some inappropriately inflicted during the offseason) and for him to stage a comeback after being (mis)diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. In the 2+ seasons prior to the back half of the 2008 season, Rocco had played next to nothing, being a regular on the 60 day DL list and on injured reserve.

Clearly this is a frustrating situation to be in as a player. No matter what team you are on, even if it was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, most professionals want to play. I don’t want to take anything away from Baldelli’s accomplishments as a member of our ball club. He was many times the sole reason to drive across the bay and watch the team play in that sarcophagus of a stadium (before current renovations).

I’m not sure how I should judge this. Of course, it initially comes across as a slap in the face to the efforts of the Rays organization to keep him in the game and to provide him hopeful support. Then again, could it be that someone in the front office really messed up? Or perhaps this was to be expected when Rocco filed for free agency after the season. Did we not up the ante when it came down to it? I definitely think the chance to play closer to where he grew up was a huge factor as well. I can’t help but think that the signing of Pat Burrell only expedited the process.

Nevertheless, we will miss you Rocco. You will always be remembered as a legendary Ray, and as an essential part of the eventual success of the franchise.

I’ll try not to boo too hard when they announce your name when you visit the Trop.