In my head, there were a few goals to start this FA period for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
1. Lock up Steven Stamkos to a long term deal
3. Move one money contract from the roster, preferably Andrej Meszaros
Stevie Y accomplished both 2 and 3 on the first day of FA. For starters, he locked up Marty to a 4 year 22.5 million dollar deal.
“Today is a great day for the Lightning organization,” Yzerman said. “Marty means so much to this franchise, both on and off the ice. His hard work and dedication are unsurpassed and we are thrilled that he will finish his career here in Tampa Bay.”
“Since coming to Tampa in 2000, the goals for my playing career have evolved,” said St. Louis. “I have now enjoyed many team and personal accolades, the highlight being our 2004 Stanley Cup win…Now the goal is to lead the Lightning back towards the top of the NHL while finishing my career here. My family and I would like to thank Steve and Mr. Vinik for giving us that opportunity. I will not let them or our fans in Tampa Bay down. We’ll do everything we can as a team to achieve at the highest levels again.”
Next, Yzerman moved Meszaros to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2011 2nd round draft pick. He capped off the moving of Meszaros by locking up ex-Lightning Dman Pavel Kubina to a 2 year 7.7 million dollar deal. By moving Meszaros and replacing him with Pavel Kubina he spent just over 100k against the cap. Kubina is a much more physical player who has the ability to play on the power play and be quite effective there. Andrej never really found his role in Tampa and his point production was something that I was always disappointed in as I thought he had the ability to be a 15 goal scorer from the point. Kubina had 38 points (6 goals) compared to Meszaros 17 points (6 goals). Kubina is a much better passer, and came at only a marginal cost. 100k more money, 21 more points and a 2nd round pick is a no brainer in my mind.
Yzerman “traded down financially” again in free agency by letting Antero Nittymaki walk to the San Jose Sharks (he signed for 2 mil a year) and locked up G Dan Ellis for 2 years at 1.5 million a year. They are almost identical players in my mind (top tier backups, middle of the road starting keeps) and saved 500k in the process. Ellis and Niitty had identical .909 save percentages last year while Ellis had a 2.69 GAA compared to Niitty’s 2.87. I personally think Ellis has a bit more upside, even though the two keepers were born literally one day apart, so the age isn’t the determining factor in the upside department. Ellis’ 2007 season at 2.34 GAA and a .924 SV% is excellent, while Niity has never really shown the potential to put up those kind of numbers.
To make improvements in personnel, while saving 400k and netting a 2nd round pick in the process, and locking up one of the teams stalwart players, I’d say Stevie Y had a great first couple days of FA.