Luke Schenn

Tampa Bay Lightning: Bringing In Schenn & McElhinney

featured image photo credit – Mark6Mauno/Flickr

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make much of a splash on July 1st, ultimately signing just two true NHL calibre players.

Those two were Curtis McElhinney, former Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes goalie, and Luke Schenn, a depth defenseman, who has travelled through Toronto, Vancouver, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia through his 11 year career in the NHL.

Here’s what the two of them bring to the table.

Curtis McElhinney

The veteran, 36 year old goaltender has had a long tenured career, and over the last couple of seasons, has been very important for his teams. He helped Toronto clinch a playoff berth two seasons ago, by stepping in and winning a very important contest to officially clinch. He then was a part of the miracle run in Carolina, where they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

McElhinney is coming off of a career high in starts with 33, posting a career-best 20 wins in the process. He is an outstanding NHL backup, but the Lightning already have fan favorite, Louis Domingue, backing up elite net-minder Andrei Vasilevskiy. What was the point?

They gave McElhinney $1.3M. He’s more expensive than Domingue’s cap hit of $1.15M. Domingue had more wins (31) in less games (26). McElhinney (.912 Save%, 2.58 Goals Against Average) were better than Domingue’s stat line (.908SV%, 2.88 GAA), but that’s not a huge difference.

However, there is one area in which McElhinney stands out more than Domingue however, and that is goals saved above average. While Domingue posted a -1.81 GSAA, McElhinney had a +2.25. But, keep in mind, McElhinney has only posted more wins than losses twice since the 2009-10 season in years with more than 10 starts, and those seasons were the last two. That could either mean improvement despite his aging, or he’s just benefitting from being on a good team at the right time. Maybe that could continue with Tampa, but Louis Domingue has already proven his success with the Bolts, and I don’t understand why they don’t keep sticking with him in net.

This signing ultimately tells me that Domingue is likely to get moved, and I really don’t like that. 

Luke Schenn

Schenn will likely be a 7th defenseman, as he was signed to a 1 year, $700k contract. With that said, these are some players who could’ve been brought in instead (Dan Girardi) and some players he will be competing for time with. 

visual created by Kyle Pereira, stats from CJ Turtoro

As shown above, every other option would have been better. Schenn is atrocious when it comes to entering the offensive zone, and defending against the rush. He couldn’t break up an opponent’s entry, even if his life depended on it. He also is really bad at entering the offensive zone, as shown by his PossEntry60/PossEntry% on the graph. Schenn is really all over the place, and seemingly just shoots the puck a lot. Based on the above visual, I’d genuinely just take a flier on Callan Foote making the jump next season. Just a pointless signing in my book. 

In Conclusion 

The Lightning have had a very slow off-season. This first day of free agency didn’t change a thing. On the one hand, I’m glad they didn’t pull teeth for a guy like Joe Pavelski, but the depth signings, both of them, were just useless. They haven’t signed their RFAs yet. Brayden Point and Cedric Paquette need to get signed quickly.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers have done almost everything right in building up their roster for next season. The Lightning need to get it together, or they will quickly fall behind an ever-so competitive Atlantic Division. 

Spider Graphs created by Kyle Pereira, gathered by CJ Turtoro

Stats from hockey-reference

Salary Cap Info from capfriendly

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Misconception Of Alex Killorn

Let’s take a look at Alex Killorn of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Part 17 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluations has arrived. Last time, I looked at rookie forward Mathieu Joseph’s season, and he was far better than I had initially thought before I started. This next player is another in which I don’t believe he had a great season, but could definitely surprise me. He’s someone who I’ve seen thrown around by fans, including myself, in trades, and some fans just don’t like him at all. This intriguing third line winger, is Alex Killorn. 

The Basics

Alex Killorn played in all 82 games last season, and recorded 18 goals and 22 assists (40 points). Averaging 14:52 time on ice, which was a career low, Killorn started just 46.1% of his shifts in the offensive zone, also a career low, being used more defensively than on offense. However, he followed that up with fantastic possession numbers, with a 54.2 Corsi-For%. He also posted a career best takeaway to giveaway ratio of 30 to 22, which is a +8 differential. That marked the first time in his career that he had more takeaways than giveaways. For PDO, which is ultimately measured and calculated luck, he posted well above the average of 100, with a 102.9, which is very lucky, and means he might not have as good of a season next year, unless his luck holds true. When Killorn was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 46.4, another career high for Killorn, and an expected goals against of 35.7, his second lowest total since the 2014-15 season, which is a +10.7 differential. 

Advanced Analytics

Looking at his stats, he’s solid all the way around, but those stats don’t always translate into the advanced analytics that I use. CF% does not mean he is good at breaking out of the defensive zone or gaining entry into the offensive zone. But he still had some really solid numbers last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the spider graph below reflect that, even a little bit. 

Killorn (red), stands out when it comes to his shooting metrics. He shoots a lot (Shots60), and gets a lot of goals, or just general contributions off of those shots (ShotContr60), but doesn’t necessarily gain assists off his shots, whether it’s tipped or put in off a rebound (ShotAssists60). Where he really struggled, relative to the other two players on the graph, was in his effectiveness of entering the offensive zone, as he posted last in both entry metrics (PossEntry60, PossEntry%). He ranked second in the exit metric that calculates how often he breaks out in a 60 minute span (PossExit60), and tied for first in how many exits he posts relative to the total number of times he attempts an exit (PossExit%). To dive in deeper on his exit metrics, I looked into CJ Turtoro’s Exits per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 9th on the Lightning roster when it comes to exiting the defensive zone. The one problem is, Killorn has the second lowest number of total breakouts, ahead of only Brayden Point, among the top 10 players. He is effective passing the puck up and out of the zone, but doesn’t often find himself skating it out himself. If there isn’t any passing options or room to skate, he dumps or clears it out to reset in the defensive zone. He doesn’t have a very high number of fails either, nearly half the amount that Mathieu Joseph had in a near identical workload, so he does just fine breaking out and doesn’t face too many problems in doing so. However, where I am most interested is in how badly Killorn looked entering the offensive zone on the spider graph. Let’s take a closer look at his entry metrics, by using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 12th on the Lightning roster in entering the zone. The struggles we thought we saw on the spider graph really wasn’t much of a struggle at all. The spider graph looks at controlled entries, when a player passes or skates it into the zone. It doesn’t take into account uncontrolled entries, which is when a player dumps it in deep. When you take controlled and uncontrolled and put them together, Alex Killorn really isn’t bad at all. He just looks for the smart play, sends it in deep, and then forechecks hard. He tends to skate it in himself when he doesn’t dump it in, relative to him passing to a teammate. But the best part about Killorn’s entry metric, is the fact that he seemingly never fails. He has the second lowest fail total among the 14 players listed, behind only Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

 

In Conclusion 

Killorn may not be the best player on the Lightning. He also doesn’t have the best contract. However, he is a lot better than many people think. He was very safe with the puck last season, able to enter and exit the offensive and defensive zones without turning the puck over very often. He had good shooting stats and nearly had a 0.5 point per game total, which is solid, considering he played less than 15 minutes per game (on average). Maybe there’s just a misconception of him due to the fact he has such a bad contract, but no one really knows. Looking at everything, maybe we should hang on to Killorn for at least one more year, because his value is lower than his production, and the Lightning won’t get a fair return for him. 

 

All stats via Hockey-reference

Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner

Dan Girardi

Tampa Bay Lightning: Taking An In-Depth Look At Dan Girardi

Featured Image Photo Credit – Dinur Blum

The last Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluation that I did was on Braydon Coburn, so I’ve decided to stick with the blue-line here. This player is likely on his way out, though it is still an unknown at this point. The question is, should they? I will evaluate his skills and determine if it is worth the money to bring him back. That player is Dan Girardi.  

The Basics

Last season, Girardi played 62 total games, while in a rotation in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Despite that, he scored 4 goals and assisted on 12 more, for a total of 16 points. He averaged 17:48 time on ice, due to the fact that he tended to play on the first defensive pair with Victor Hedman, with no special teams time. He started 49% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and racked up a 49.9 Corsi-For%, his best CF% in 10 years (the 2008-09 season). Girardi had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 8 to 25, a -17 differential. It’s also a career low total in takeaways and giveaways. Girardi recorded a 100.7 PDO, which means he’s only a little bit lucky, relative to the average of 100 PDO.  With Girardi on the ice this season, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 45.7 and an expected goals against of 43.7, which is a +2 differential, his first career plus expected +/- since it was first calculated in the 2014-15 season. 

Advanced Analytics

Girardi wasn’t good or bad in almost all of his stats except the takeaway-giveaway ratio. However, he has never really been good in that metric in his career. He did improve in a few areas compared to prior seasons, but overall on the surface, he hasn’t been that good. If we look into the spider graphs, maybe they can hint at something that he is good at.

visual created by Kyle Pereira, data from CJ Turtoro

Girardi (red) is last in his shot contributions, which ultimately means he doesn’t generate any sort of offense from his shots (ShotContr60, ShotAssists60), but he does shoot the puck more than Jan Rutta (Shots60). He ranks dead last in all transition metrics, which looks at his success breaking out of the defensive zone (PossExit60, PossExit%) and breaking into the offensive zone (PossEntry60, PossEntry%). He is the best of the three defensemen shown on the graph for breaking up the opposition’s entry attempts (Breakups60), and has better defensive numbers than offensive, but still ranks last in allowing the opposition a high volume of entries in a 60 minute span (PossEntryAllw60) and second in how many entries he allows compared to the total number of entries he has to defend against (PossEntryAllw%).

Where I am intrigued the most is in his seemingly awful transition game, so let’s first look into his performance on the breakout by taking a look at CJ Turtoro’s Exit per 60 minute visual. 

visual created by CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Girardi ranks dead last among all other Lightning defenders (minus Rutta) in this metric. He only ever passes the puck up and out of the defensive zone to a teammate, and never skates it out. He relies very heavily on his dumps and clears when leaving the defensive zone which allows for the opponents to quickly regain the puck in the neutral zone and get another entry, hence his high PossEntryAllw60 metric on the spider graph. He ices it less than Coburn does, but still more than all other defenders, which isn’t bad, but still needs to be taken down a little bit. Girardi has a high amount of fails, and that’s where he really needs to turn it down. While he didn’t turn the puck over a whole lot last season, he had around the same amount of fails as Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev, who are pace pushers and take risks moving up ice, which sometimes leads to fails. But in Girardi’s case, he doesn’t push the pace at all, and he’s just seemingly bad at breaking out. This isn’t a good look for Girardi.

Now let’s look at Girardi’s metric of entering the offensive zone using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual. 

visual created by CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Yet again, Girardi ranks dead last in entering the zone, but this time there’s a better reason why. While he had a tough workload exiting the zone (lots of attempts), he had the smallest workload breaking into the offensive zone, as he never really made an attempt to do so consistently. For controlled entries, he passes to a teammate more than he skates it in himself, though it is pretty close. He constantly dumps it in however, if he even tries entering at all. The best part about the whole thing though? He very rarely fails in getting the puck in, when he tries doing so, and thus is fairly effective entering the offensive zone. Now, if we go back to the spider graph, we will remember that his best attributes were in his defensive zone play. 

Break-Ups versus Possession Exits

Let’s now take a look at Sean Tierney’s visual, Controlling the blue line. 

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder

Girardi, the left-most defenseman, had a high breakup%, about even with both Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman. However, as we saw before, he was not good at breaking out of the defensive end, and thus had the lowest, by a wide margin, Possession Exit%. He’s just an okay defenseman, because he breaks up the oppositions attack, but then can’t break out of the defensive zone, doesn’t really try to break into the offensive zone, and does little to make a difference offensively. 

In Conclusion 

Dan Girardi is just okay, as I touched on earlier. I feel as though the Lightning gave him too much ice time, and that he should not have been deployed more often than both Sergachev and Coburn. To me, Girardi is a solid 7th defenseman, who can slot into any lineup that needs him when an injury occurs. You know exactly what you’re going to get with Coburn due to his very consistent production, but he isn’t your guy if you already struggle breaking out or pushing offense. I don’t see the point in re-signing Dan Girardi with better options on the roster, and cheaper options in the trade market and within the Lightning’s farm system. I can see Girardi going to Long Island to play for Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders. 

All stats via Hockey-reference

Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Controlling the Blue-line visual from Sean Tierney

Featured Image Photo Credit – Dinur Blum

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Player Evaluation Part 10: Mikhail Sergachev

Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluation part 10! We made it, finally! But who will it be this time around? Staying on the back end for this one, we will look at another youngster, defenceman Mikhail Sergachev.

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Sergachev was traded from Montreal to Tampa Bay two off-seasons ago,  and has been a big part of the team since. How valuable was he to the record-setting totals from last season?

The Basics

Sergachev played in 75 games for the Lightning last season, recording six goals (0.08 goals per game), and 26 assists (0.35 assists per game) for 32 points (0.43 points per game). He averaged 17:55 time on-ice last season with 53.8% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. That deployment in the offensive zone led to a Corsi For% of 53.7%. He had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 18 to 50, which is a differential of -32, which is not necessarily good. He also recorded a very average PDO of 100.7, and when Sergachev was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 56.2 and an expected goals against of 47.8 which is a differential of +8.4.

Advanced Analytics

Sergachev constantly tries driving the offense, but a lack of consistency is what caused him to lose ice time to rookie Erik Cernak, as well as losing a couple games as a healthy scratch in a defensive rotation involving Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and at one point, Cernak. His consistency must be solved, but did his offensive numbers, and constant pushing of offense in the transitional game, make up for his struggle with turning over the puck? Let’s look at the spider graphs.

Sergachev was right up at the top of the rankings when it came to his shooting, whether he was contributing goals or chances (ShotContr60), gathering assists (ShotAssists60), or just taking a high volume of shots (Shots60). He also stood out, almost hand in hand with Victor Hedman, when it came to entering the offensive zone (PossEntry60, PossEntry%).

He also sparkled exiting the defensive zone, compared to his teammates (PossExit60, PossExit%). While he doesn’t break up passes and generate takeaways while the opposition is entering the zone (Breakups60), he doesn’t allow a lot of entries (PossEntryAllw60).

But when the opposition is breaking into the Lightning d-zone, chances are they’ll get past Sergachev (PossEntry%). Based solely on what I have seen from this graph (and basic statistics), his high deployment in the offensive zone leads to him not dealing with much in the defensive zone, thus why he doesn’t give up a lot of entries, but does give up more entries than he stops. That being said, I also predict that he has a small workload breaking out of the defensive end, but to determine that, we must look at CJ Turtoro’s Exit Per 60 minute visual.

Despite my best guesses, I was wrong, wholly and completely.

Sergachev has a similar workload breaking out of the defensive zone as Hedman, which is why he ranks third on the roster in this metric (1st among defense). He relies heavily on a breakout pass, as he doesn’t skate it out himself too much. He mainly decides to clear or dump the puck out of the zone more than anything, and does get the occasional icing called against him.

But what really concerns me is the high level of fails (Fail/60). That tells me he either forces way too much up ice (since he does push heavily to drive the offense), or he doesn’t successfully clear or dump the puck out of the zone.

I don’t know which is worse quite honestly, but what I can say is he needs to stop whatever it is. He’s still young, and as he grows as a player and gains more confidence in himself (as well as more hockey maturity), he’ll be able to read the play more effectively, and turn the puck over less. Hopefully, at least.  On the contrary, his entry metrics were solid, so let’s see what he did right entering the offensive zone, using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minutes visual.

Sergachev is the best defenseman that played for the Lightning this season, in this metric, and it wasn’t even close.

He passed it to a teammate for an entry or individually skated the puck out himself with equal results, and if neither option was available, he simply dumped it in deep. He didn’t fail nearly as often when entering the offensive zone, but he is a defenseman, and defensemen should not always be the ones entering the offensive zone.

But his success driving the offense makes up for other struggles. Based on prior evaluations, Sergachev should be constantly deployed alongside Hedman, as Hedman can make up for Sergachev’s mistakes. They can both help Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point put the puck in the back of the net.

But we are not done here, we have one last thing to look at. Defensemen need to be good at defending, that’s kind of the point, and to see how well Sergachev played in the defensive zone, let’s hop on over to Sean Tierney’s controlling the blue line visual.

Sergachev is highlighted on the graph, and boy, it does not like good for Sergy.

He generates an egregiously low amount of breakups, and a below average breakout % (Previously referred to as PossExit60 or PossExit%), which puts him in the “Bad” section of the visual. This is why he has his setbacks in ice time, and this is why he was placed in that rotation with Girardi and Coburn. This must improve, regardless of how well he pushes the pace offensively. If he doesn’t get his defensive game figured out next season, he could be looking at another season on the bottom d-pair with second line power play time.

In Conclusion

Sergachev is an exceptional pace-pusher, and does a great job generating offense, and excelling in getting the puck into the offensive zone to begin with. But he turns the puck over far too often when breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, the zone that he can’t afford turnovers in.

Then to top it all off, he struggles “controlling the blueline”, which is his job. He has a lot of improving to do, and he must act fast. But he is still young, and super valuable in terms of offensive production, which is the main reason among many that the Lightning fared so well this past season.

All Stats via hockey-reference

The Spider Charts used Data from CJ Turtoro, created by Kyle Pereira

Entry/Exit Charts via CJ Turtoro

Defensive zone chart via Sean Tierney

Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Potential Line-Up Additions

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a long and, quite simply, brutal off-season ahead of them. Who will be gone, and who will be brought in?

 

Emotionally, Tampa Bay Lightning fans have gone into phases of disappointment, finger-pointing and finally, disbelief after a 62-win regular season and zero post-season victories. Then add to that on the surface of the whole off-season, the expected cap crunch. It’s obviously a very stressful time of the year for the Lightning faithful. 

 

What’s The Plan?

I have already written a piece on each phase of the offseason. I started by covering potential draft options for the Lightning, the re-sign phase, and trades/signings during the free agent period. I also did a piece on Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

But for this article, I decided to change it up. I went to several different people and asked them what players would make sense for the Lightning to trade for or sign during the free agent period. Keep in mind, I’m not mocking any trades, looking at salary caps, or saying these things should happen. These are simple suggestions that could be very intriguing coming from not just me, but several hockey fans, as well as a few other writers on the Puck77 site.

 

Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes

The Lightning may be looking for a change of leadership after the embarrassment of a first-round exit. This does NOT mean that the person who suggested this wants Lightning forward Steven Stamkos out by any means, but Williams is a veteran leader and a captain of a team who has more postseason wins in the second round then the Lightning had this entire postseason.

Although he is 37-years-old, Williams is coming off a 53-point season with a young Carolina Hurricanes team, and he currently sits at five points in 10 post-season games. A clutch playoff performer and incredible locker room leader, Williams would be a great addition, although extremely unlikely.

 

Ryan Reaves, Vegas Golden Knights

The biggest element to playoff hockey is its intensity. It’s easy to say physicality in the playoffs may be one of the most compelling elements to success, as the Lightning were dominated in the physical aspect of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. When a guy like “Muffin Man” Ryan Reaves is on the ice, I don’t think many people can out-hit you.

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Although not much of a producer (he’s never had a season with over 20 points), Reaves adds something to a teams game that is often overlooked. He is praised as a great teammate and locker room presence, and is a cheap addition to the bottom-six.  Something that could definitely happen, especially if Adam Erne does not re-sign with Tampa this off-season.

 

Brian Boyle, Nashville Predators

I’m not kidding you when I say Brian Boyle was the most suggested add for the Lightning when I asked around. It makes sense too, as Boyle may not be too expensive and has offensive upside, especially if paired with guys like J.T. Miller and Mathieu Joseph. 

A member of the Lightning previously (2014-17), he knows Cooper’s system and he has played with some of the guys on the team in the past, like Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson. With his prior stint on the Lightning, his offensive upside and his physical presence, this is a move that is certainly realistic and something the Lightning should pursue.

 

Connor Brown, Toronto Maple Leafs

This is another suggestion that intrigues me. Connor Brown is young (25) and often underused by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not to mention, the salary situation that the Leafs are in could make Brown expendable.

He has decent offensive upside for a bottom-nine role (three consecutive seasons with 27+ points, including a 20-goal, 36-point campaign in 2016-17). He’s also a physical presence on the ice, and has far more takeaways (120) than giveaways (68) in his career. He would be another great fit for the Lightning, and realistic based on Toronto’s situation. Again, highly unlikely, but still something to keep an eye on.

 

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

The first defenseman that was suggested, Jacob Trouba is a solid blueliner, and has been for a few years with the Winnipeg Jets. He is slated to be a free agent after recording 50 points this past season. As a defenseman that’s super impressive.

Add him to the list of Lightning defenders Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Ryan McDonagh as high-end offensive blueliners for the Lightning, and you have one incredible d-core. Add in Erik Cernak as a solid transitional and defensively responsible blueliner, and one of Braydon Coburn, Jan Rutta and Dan Girardi as a stay-at-home type, and you have yourself arguably the deepest and most talented defense in the entire NHL.

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This is just a pipe dream however, as the cap situation may be too much to work around, and Trouba could be looking for top-two money and minutes if he leaves the Jets. Something he most likely won’t get with Tampa.

 

Jordie Benn, Montreal Canadians

Jordie Benn has been a solid bottom-pair defenseman basically his entire career, and would be a great fit in the Lightning organization. If Tampa lets Coburn and Girardi walk away this offseason, Benn would be a nice addition.

He blocks a ton of shots (128 this season), and plays a physical brand of hockey. He does give the puck up often, which was the downfall for Tampa this season, but again, his physicality and blocking is important and deserves a look.

 

Patrick Nemeth, Dallas Stars

Not as offensive as Benn (10 points to Benn’s 20 this season), Patrik Nemeth does block more shots (131 blocks) and has more hits. He also turns the puck over less, although Benn does have more takeaways. What this tells me is Nemeth is purely a stay-at-home, shot blocking, physically inclined defenseman, who tries to play it safe with the puck rather than drive the offense. If he’s paired with either Hedman or Sergachev, he could be a solid addition. Again, however, it’s not very likely, but something to look for.

 

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson was considered the best of the best on the blue line in the National Hockey League and is still considered a premier defenseman. However, an injury ravaged season, as well as a new system and new players to learn to play with and gain chemistry with, caused the elite Swedish blueliner to take a step back.

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This opens the eyes of several NHL franchises as he could take a cheaper deal than what he would have had he been available last off-season. This is still a longshot for the Lightning to reel in, as they have their own agenda and free agents (Brayden Point) to deal with, making this a very difficult signing. 

 

Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets

Matt Duchene has been tearing it apart the playoffs. He ripped up the Lightning in round one, and continued his strong play into round two against the Boston Bruins. He is also a leader on and off the ice, and if he does come to Tampa Bay, he could take them to that next step in the playoffs, as he appears to be clutch in the big moments.

Again, a long shot, but it would be an incredible acquisition if they traded a few players on semi-hefty deals (Killorn, Johnson, Palat) and bought out one big contract (Ryan Callahan) to free up space for both Duchene and upcoming restricted free agent Point. I don’t expect it to happen at all, but what a piece to bring in.

 

Ryan Dzingal, Columbus Blue Jackets

Now this is something that could happen.

Dzingel has taken steps to become a picture-perfect middle-six forward, and he may not cost much more than $4.5M on a contract. If they move Palat, Johnson or Killorn and buyout Callahan, they could re-sign Point and bring in Dzingel. He could play a role similar to that of Miller, fluctuating between the first, second, and third lines, and be able to produce in all of those spots. Could strengthen an already solid power play unit.

 

Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs

This is realistic in a sense that he will likely be available. He is also a leader on and off the ice, and defense is a growing need in Tampa with the likes of Anton Stralman, Girardi and Coburn likely out-of-town come the summer.

But the Lightning already have a punishing top-four defense, with Hedman, McDonagh, Sergachev and Cernak there. Adding Gardiner isn’t necessary, but it would add incredible depth for the Bolts on the backend. It is highly unlikely, however.

 

Warren Foegele, Carolina Hurricanes

This was an interesting suggestion. The recently turned 23-year-old Foegele is coming of his first season of NHL play. In 77 games, he only racked up 15 points (10 goals, five assists), but his possession statistics is where he really showed his value.

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He had a 53.8 Corsi For %, which is outstanding, and a positive takeaway to giveaway ratio of 37-31. But he has been incredible in the playoffs, with 8 points in 10 games and helping pave the way for the Hurricanes success. He’s also racked up 21 hits in the postseason, showing he can play physical if need be.

He’s a bottom-six forward, with middle-to-top-six potential. Because of his potential and his current status as a bottom-six guy, he may not be too expensive either. With big contracts on the horizon, the Hurricanes wouldn’t be dumb enough to take a contract like Killorn’s one for one, so it’d have to be more appealing in some way. Maybe salary retainment or additional picks can do the trick, but who knows if the Hurricanes would send him packing, especially with how well he’s done in the postseason. So that makes a move to Tampa very unlikely for Foegele. But this is something I would love to happen, given his early career postseason success.

 

All stats via hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals