With GM Brian Lawton telling the St Pete Times yesterday that he would be aggressive in looking for deals to improve the club, and new owner Jeff Vinik saying that payroll could be increased if the right deal came along, BBTB will take a look at some potential Unrestricted Free Agents who could be dealt for that would help improve our club. With our payroll restrictions, more than likely a UFA will be the target for Lawton and team, as the Lightning could gain a rental at a prorated salary for the rest of the season, more than likely surrendering draft picks or a goaltending prospect.
The Bolts could use two things in my opinion, another stout defenseman, and another scoring winger, with the main priority being a scoring winger. For all the hate that has been thrown Vinny Lecavalier’s way the past few months, lets remember that he has been playing with a poopoo platter consisting of mainly Alex “Awful” Tanguay, and someone else who doesn’t deserve to be on a top two line. I would be ok with Jeff Halpern, Vinny, and someone else of value instead of “Awful” and now I will try and find that person.
Teemu Selanne – Selanne has 18 goals and 11 assists in 37 GP. He is 39 years old, and although he is a crowd favorite, if the Ducks could shed the remainder of his prorated 2 million dollar salary, they might pull the trigger. A guy who might be able to put a few more asses in the stands.
Maxim Afinogenov – Afinogenov is having a great year for the Thrashers. He is on pace to come close to some of his better seasons in the NHL (61 and 73 points). He currently has 19 goals and 27 assists, and would be a perfect target for the Lightning in my opinion. The problem is the Thrashers are only 1 point behind the Bolts and two points out of 8th place. Problem 2 is they signed Afi on the cheap last offseason for 800k. Would probably take a deal that included more prospects or higher draft picks than we were willing to move, if the Thrash were even amenable to moving a key piece within the division.
Ray Whitney – 37 year old Ray Whitney is having a stellar season for the awful Carolina Hurricanes. He has 19 goals, 29 assists in 598 games. Surprisingly he is only a -1 for a team who is 2nd to last in the East and is 6 games under .500. His prorated salary savings for the Hurricanes will almost certainly dictate them trading Whitney, but I would expect there to be a lot of interest from almost every contender in the league for his services.
Paul Kariya – Kariya has 29 points (12 goals) for a disappointing Blues team. They went on a little 3 game win streak before the break and currently sit only 4 points out of a playoff spot so prying a veteran goal scorer from them might not be easy. Kariya has a 6 million dollar salary this season, so there is the possibility of the Blues moving him to save some money. Another guy, just like Selanne who could put butts in the seats.
Keith Tkachuk - Another wily veteran who has 28 points in 55 GP this season, Tkachuk certainly isn’t enjoying a great statistical season, but would be a serious upgrade over Tanguay in my mind. On top of the potential scoring upgrade, Tkachuk fits Rick Tocchet’s mold of a forward to a T. He is grimey, will scrape along the boards, and would provide more leadership for this team. He is earning 2.15 mil this season, so his prorated salary, would come out to around 550k for the Lightning. The perfect addition in my mind.
Fredrik Modin – Modin, who has only played in 22 this season due to injury, would be a guy that both Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St Louis are quite familiar with. He has 6 points in 22 games, but is a gritty forward who would be another valuable asset on the power play. Columbus is awful and shedding Fredrik Modin’s salary would save the Jackets almost 900k. Another guy I think the Lightning will take a look at.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – The Russian left winger is undoubtedly on the block, as Brian Burke has already shown he is willing to pull the trigger on most of the players on his roster. Alexei has 41 points in 61 games, and would be a valuable scoring addition on the left side. Him and Halp and Vinny 4 would form a potent, gritty line in my mind. Lawton and Burke need to have a long talk about Poni.
Dennis Seidenberg – Seidenberg could be the perfect puck moving defenseman for the Lightning. With Panthers ownership telling their fan base they were on the verge of blowing up their whole roster, you can gaurantee that everyone is available, certainly all UFA’s that have value. Dennis has 22 points in 61 games, 20 of those assists. He would be a great power play addition, and is a solid Dman. This would be my target if i were Lawton. Seidenberg would cost the Bolts a little over 550k.
Jordan Leopold – Leopold is another Panther who will almost certainly be playing for a new team after the Olympic moratorium is lifted. Leopold has 18 points including 7 goals, tied for 6th amongst defenseman. For a team who could use another defenseman and some scoring pop, Leopold would make plenty of sense for the Bolts, especially at a cost of about 450k.
Joe Corvo – Corvo is a solid veteran defenseman who wont bring much scoring pop to your team, but will play stout D. He would also bring a plethora of veteran leadership. Since the Canes still owe him over 700k for this season, I would bet my Cadillac that he is on a new team by the end of the season.
Daryl Sydor – We all know what Sydor has the potential to bring to the table for the Lightning, as he was the key acquisition on the Bolts cup run. While he doesn’t bring the same scoring pop he used to, he still averages over 17 minutes a game on the blue line for the Blues. Same as with Tkachuk and Kariya, it is hard to tell if the Blues are going to be sellers at the deadline, but if they were, Sydor would bring a lot of familiarity to the Bay Area and a few of the guys on our roster.
Pavel Kubina – Kubina, another Ex-Bolt who has some history with a couple of the players on our roster, would be another perfect addition to the Lightning club. He currently has 34 points in 59 games, 29 of those assists. He is the other defenseman besides Seidenberg who provide both scoring pop and D to our team, both of which we need. With the Thrashers owing him more than 1.3 million still for the season, you can almost bet Kubina will be moved.