What are the top five off-season issues facing Tampa Bay Lightning management this summer? Are Steven Stamkos and their goaltending among those issues?
TBO.COM: Erik Erlendssen reports the five key issues facing the Lightning this summer. They are: who’ll play goal next season? (Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith are UFAs), Will Steven Stamkos (a restricted free agent ) be back? Who will log number one defenseman minutes? Will the forward line depth take a hit? Just how busy will the off-season really be? Erlendsson believes it’s not a stretch to imagine Roloson and Smith could return, though it’s not a certainty. It behooves the Lightning to get Stamkos re-signed before July 1st, when he’ll be eligible to receive offer sheets from other clubs. Eric Brewer’s strong post-season could possibly price him out of the Lightning’s price range this summer. Ted Purcell is a restricted free agent, while Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim and Adam Hall are unrestricted free agents.
TAMPABAY.COM: Damian Cristodero reports Lightning GM Steve Yzerman admitted his team will “increase payroll” for next season though he wouldn’t get into specifics, and admitted he was open to bringing back Roloson and Smith next season. Both goalies also expressed a willingness to return with the Lightning. Cristodero also reports Stamkos doesn’t expect any problems re-signing with the Lightning, nor does his agent or Yzerman. It’s expected Stamkos will re-sign for about $7 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos will be re-signed before July 1st. He’s not going anywhere. Folks who believe otherwise really don’t know what they’re talking about. The Lightning also aren’t going to trade him, so ignore any rumors suggesting otherwise. It wouldn’t be surprising if Roloson and Smith did return next season, but if it comes down to keeping only one, Roloson probably stays, as they could find a replacement for Smith in this summer’s UFA market, where there’s depth in experienced, affordable backups. Brewer could be tough to retain, which could mean dipping into the free agent pool or perhaps making a trade. It remains to be seen what happens with Gagne, Bergenheim and Hall, but Purcell will also be re-signed.