February 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Nate Thompson (44) on the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In Yzerman We Trust? (Part 1)

This used to be a phrase that the Bolts Nation could utter without a question. However, in light of the current decision making of the Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman, depending on which side of the ice you sit on, may not be so certain anymore.

Nov 30, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman before the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In every story, there are good decisions and bad decisions. While Yzerman has indeed made some good moves this season, the bad ones really make you think twice about his thought process.

Let’s take a look at the moves Yzerman has made as of late; the good, the bad, and the just plain questionable. First, let’s take a look at the good.

Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Defenseman Andrej Sustr

This is an example of good decision making by the GM. This season, the Lightning has been plagued by holes in our defense; holes that no amount of coaching seems to be able to fix. So it is music to my ears when we acquire a quality defenseman to help fill some of those holes.

The 6’8 Plzen, Czech Republic native made his NHL debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 29th against the New Jersey Devils.

Sustr’s size has caused quite a stir in the NHL. According to NHL regulations, a player’s stick may not exceed sixty-three inches (63″) in length from the heel to the end of the shaft nor more than twelve and one-half inches (121/2“) from the heel to the end of the blade. Because of his significantly larger frame, the Lightning defenseman has had to obtain special permission from the NHL for his stick to be sixty-five inches (65”) in length. According to the NHL, they will be constantly checking the length of Sustr’s stick to ensure that it does not exceed sixty-five inches in length at any time.

Prior to joining the Lightning, Sustr was sought by approximately 20 different NHL teams. Sustr chose to forego his Senior Year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to entertain offers from the NHL. During the 111 games that he played as a UNO Maverick, he scored 15 goals and 36 assists for a total of 51 points with a plus-24 career rating.

While we currently only have one game to judge his performance on, I feel this could be a solid asset to the Lightning defense. I, for one, look forward to seeing what Sustr has to offer.

Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Defenseman Slater Koekkoek

This is another good move on the part of the Lightning VP and GM. Not to mention that the Lightning may very well own the coolest name in the NHL.

June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Slater Koekkoek poses for a photo after being selected as the number ten overall draft pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Slater Koekkoek was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Prior to signing with the Bolts, Koekkoek played in the Ontario Hockey League as a member of the Peterborough Petes and the Windsor Spitfires. Since 2010, the 6’2 186 pound Manotik, Ontario native has played 133 games in the OHL scoring 18 goals and 52 assists for a total of 70 points with a total of 112 penalty minutes. In 2011, he helped lead Team Canada to the Bronze Medal in the 2011 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

While we have not yet had an opportunity to see Koekkoek in action in an actual NHL game, Koekkoek did participate in the Lightning’s Summer Development Camp. From what I saw of him during camp, and what is in black and white from his time in the OHL, we have good things to look forward to from the Lightning defenseman.

Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Forward Tanner Richard

With the Lightning falling into an offensive slump, the infusion of young talent has led to an almost instantaneous resurgence.

In that same spirit, yesterday, the Lightning announced that they have signed forward Tanner Richard to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 6 foot, 183 pound Jona, Switzerland native played 95 games in the OHL Career, all with Guelph Storm. In that time, he has earned 24 goals and 110 points with 140 penalty minutes. He also represented Switzerland in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Russia where he garnered four assists and a plus-two rating in six tournament games.

Richard was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round, 71st overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Tampa Bay Lightning Come to Terms with Nate Thompson on a 4-Year Contract Extension

This is music to my ears, and in my opinion, one of the best decisions that Yzerman could have possibly made.

In his fourth season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thompson has suited up for a total of 213 games scoring 27 goals and earning 28 assists for a total of 55 points.

While he may not have the superstar numbers of forwards like Steven Stamkos, Thompson has something far more valuable; staying power. Thompson has proven to be one of the most consistent players that the Lightning have seen in some time.

While some seemed to have given up when the Lightning started to skid in the beginning of the season, Thompson came out every night and skated like there was no tomorrow; and let’s be honest, in the business of hockey, your spot is never guaranteed.

Thompson was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 6th round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Just before the start of the 2008-09 season, he was claimed off of waivers by the New York Islanders. Then, on January 21st, 2010, Nate was claimed off of waivers by the Lightning. The rest, as they say, is history.


In Part 2, we will take a look at some of the more questionable decisions made by the GM so far. No matter which side of the ice you sit on, it will definitely give you something to think about.


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