The Tampa Bay Lightning has been rather busy today as they have officially extended qualifying offers to five players.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a very successful run at the 2015 NHL Draft at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. We picked up a lot of players that could one day turn out to be key components of the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup. Now, all eyes have officially turned to the Free Agency Period.
As some of you may already be aware, today is the official deadline for teams in the National Hockey League to extend qualifying offers to their pending Free Agents before the Free Agency Period officially opens on July 1st.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has quite a few players who will be Free Agents when July 1st rolls around, but it seems like the Lightning still has some manner of interest in quite a few of them. Earlier this afternoon, it was announced that the Lightning had extended qualifying offers to five of the impending Free Agents.
Here is a look at who the Lightning has extended offers to:
As we said before, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman has sure been busy over the course of the past week or so.
Now, for those of you who are not quite sure what all of this means, allow is to break it down for you. When a team extends a qualifying offer to a player that is due to be a Restricted Free Agent, this gives the team the “first right of refusal” or “draft choice compensation” should the player sign an offer sheet from another team.
In other words, they are staking a claim on a player while they work out what kind of contract the team wants to offer the player and allowing the team to figure out where they fit in the structure while still allowing the player the freedom to look around and explore their options.
It will be interesting to see which of these players will still remain in the Lightning organization when all is said and done. The one player we can see definitely coming back to the team next season is Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov is a fast skater with good puck handling skills.
Of course, with the Lightning organization being packed to the gills with talented forwards, there is always the possibility that they could be looking to deal Namestnikov for a higher return and freeing up some room to take care of some of the more difficult contracts they have coming up in the near future.
At this point, all of this is purely speculation. The only one who truly knows what the plan is for the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into the Free Agency period is Steve Yzerman himself. What we do know for sure at this point is that the Lightning has extended qualifying offers to these five players, which means that there is always the chance that we will see them once again next season.
Things are going to get interesting over the next few days as the Free Agency Period opens up and the off-season wheeling and dealing begins.
Which, if not all, of these five players do you see remaining with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization next season? Who do you think is the biggest priority to re-sign? Let us know what you think in the comments below.