PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Andrey Vasilevskiy, 19th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning, poses for a portrait during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Draft Complete, Free Agency Next

Just because there aren’t games being played does not mean fans are completely bored out of their minds. Well, maybe for some it does. But for those fans like us here at Bolts by the Bay who have a unique enthusiasm for the sport, the action almost never ends. The Kings won Lord Stanley’s Cup on June 11th.

Less than two weeks later, fans were huddled around televisions, smartphones, laptops, and other electronic mediums in order to see what prospect his or her favorite team was to draft. These fans are excited for the future, which is essentially what we were all watching for. We’ve seen the prospects get drafted, now we wait to watch them develop. Maybe within the next 3 or 4 years, we’ll be watching Nail Yakupov light up the lamp on a daily basis. If so, at least he’s playing out west with Edmonton. Or maybe we’ll see a young phenom steal the show as Stamkos did as a 19 year old, or as, dare I say, Crosby did at the age of 18. Of course, I’m no wizard, so I don’t have a crystal ball. However, I have a TMobile G2 with the Lightning Mobile App installed, and it tells me the next date to look forward to this off season is July 1st.

July 1st marks the beginning of Free Agency in the NHL. Players with expiring contracts will be free to sign new contracts. Keith Aulie, Brian Lee, Anders Lindback, Benoit Pouliot,  Brendan Mikkelson, Jaroslav Janus, Evan Oberg, and Sebastien Piche will all be  restricted free agents come July 1st. Only the Lightning will hold the rights to negotiate contracts with them is qualifying offers are submitted before July 1st. Speaking of that, as I am typing this, I just read a tweet via @TBLightning regarding qualifying offers to a few players:

Lightning give [Qualifying Offers] to Aulie, Lee, Mikkelson, Oberg, Janus. No offers for Piche and Pouliot. Lindback was qualified before being acquired. – Twitter @TBLightning

So according to that, Aulie, Lee, Mikkelson, Oberg, and Janus (and Lindback) will all be restricted free agents, unless they accept the qualifying offers right off the bat, avoiding the free agency period all together. Of course, unrestricted free agents are also in the mix. The list of unrestricted free agents is a long one. These players can hold contract talks with any team as of July 1st. Notable names include Brett Clark, Bruno Gervais, and Dwayne Roloson.

There are a number of moves that have already been made as well. Adam Hall and JT Wyman both resigned with the Lightning on the 15th of this month (Wyman under a 2 way contract). Three days later, on the 18th, Mike Angelidis signed a two year, two way contract with the Lightning. Sebastien Caron was moved along with Michel Ouellet. Lindback and center Kyle Wilson are players the Lightning have acquired. Ryan Shannon will not be back with the Lightning, as he signed a three year contract with a team in the Swiss League. The off season is still just beginning, and so is the fun. Good news is, we won’t have a situation similar to last year’s Stammergeddon to deal with.

TampaBayLightning.com Draft Central

2012 Free Agent Tracker

Contact me on Twitter: @Gabriel0430

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