Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Awful Trades and A Slow Off-Season

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has not impressed anyone yet. Since taking over a star-studded team built by former GM Steve Yzerman, BriseBois decided not to add at the trade deadline.

 

His team, regardless of that, had an historic season. Or should I say, Yzerman’s team did, because BriseBois only added Jan Rutta, who played 14 games in blue and white. He also called up Cameron Gaunce, who stepped in for two games.

Then, with forward Brayden Point waiting for a contract as a Restricted Free Agent, BriseBois tests everyone’s patience by first extending Rutta, and then trading a bright, young, and talented goaltending prospect in Connor Ingram for a bucket of pucks. I mean a seventh round pick, in a draft three years from now, ultimately has the same value as a bucket of pucks. But at least you can get the pucks immediately and not wait three years for them. You’re welcome Nashville.

 

Why Is The Ingram Trade Bad?

First off, Ingram is a prospect, and the best in the Lightning system for his position. That alone should be reason enough for him to warrant a hell of a lot more than a seventh round pick in 2021. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye, so a deeper dive should do the trick.

 

Who Is Connor Ingram?

Ingram is a 22 year old goalie, who was drafted in the third round (88th overall) in 2016, where he was ranked as a top-10 goalie (and the eighth off the board).

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After being drafted, he returned to the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League, where he had played for the previous two seasons. In 45 games, he posted a 2.44 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage (SV%). Then, in six postseason games, he was magnificent, with a 2.18 GAA and .946 SV%.

The following season, he began with the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate at the time, the Adirondack Thunder, where he quickly proved he was too good to be there. With a 1.30 GAA and .960 SV% in three games, he was called up to the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. There, he stepped into a big role, starting 35 games and posting a 2.33 GAA and .914 SV%.

Ingram started this season once again with Syracuse. But then, out of the blue, his playing time was rolled back. Despite being in the AHL all-star game this past season for his stellar season with the Crunch, he was sent to the new ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears, after 22 games.

In those said 22 games, Ingram had a solid 2.26 GAA and .922 SV%. He was beginning to show why he was worthy of being a third-round selection (about where top goalies tend to get selected). That’s when things fell apart. According to personal sources, there was a dispute between Ingram and Lightning management, though it is unclear what exactly the disputes were about at this time. He did not play well in the 13 regular season ECHL games that followed (2.81 GAA, .914 SV%), but did play up to expectations in the playoffs (10 games, 1.94 GAA, .935 SV%), before ultimately falling short and getting knocked out of the playoffs.

 

In Conclusion

His frustrations were clear in his struggles at a low-level of hockey, and he reportedly requested a trade when he initially was sent down to the ECHL.

Just like with the Jonathan Drouin situation however, Ingram went back to his true on-ice self in the playoffs, and the problems seemingly, were no longer problems anymore. But at least the Lightning were able to snag Mikhail Sergachev for Drouin. Granted, Drouin had a lot more value than Ingram does, but the Lightning could have easily gotten more. At least get a third round pick back for him, or even a B-level prospect. But instead, in essence, a bucket of pucks that will get delivered in 2021.

 

All stats via Elite Prospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

WHL Report: Four Teams Fighting For the Remaining Playoff Spots

WHL Report: Four Teams Fighting For the Remaining Playoff Spots

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, there’s still a lot to play for, as a couple of teams sitting outside of a playoff spot still have a chance to earn their way into the postseason.  With only spot available in each of the conferences, it is do-or-die for four teams who want to get into the playoffs.

Eastern Conference: Red Deer Trying to Hold Off Brandon

Out in the Eastern Conference, a duo of clubs have an opportunity to clinch the last Wild Card spot. Coming out of the Central Division, the Red Deer Rebels currently sit four points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. While these two teams will not meet in the final weekend of the regular season, Both teams will be keeping a close eye on one another.

Red Deer Just Needs One

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The Rebels have not struggled as bad as Medicine Hat has as of late, however Red Deer at one point was one of the hottest teams in the WHL. However, lackluster play over the past few months have seen Red Deer drop out of the top-three. It did not help when they lost six in a row at the end of January into February, losing 11 of 12 in that time span. It also did not help that the team right above them in the standings, the Medicine Hat Tigers, beat the Rebels on Wednesday night to clinch one of the two Wild Card spots.

The Rebels will have to play Lethbridge and Kootenay this weekend, as the Hurricanes visit Red Deer on Friday, while the ICE host the Rebels on the final day of the regular season on Sunday. The Hurricanes have won three of the five meetings against Red Deer this season, including shelling the Rebels with a 6-2 win on February the 1st. The Hurricanes have been on a storm surge of sorts, as they have won 11 of their last 13 games.

Red Deer has a little more favourable odds against Kootenay, as they have won all five games this season against the ICE, with two of them coming in extra time.

Brandon Clinging To Hope

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The Wheat Kings have really battled throughout the season with the best in the East Division. However, a slow second half to the season has pushed them out of the top-three, and outside the playoff picture all together. After a six-game win streak in the middle of February, including an overtime win over the dominant Prince Albert Raiders, Brandon has only won one out of their last eight games. This includes losses to Medicine Hat and Red Deer, teams they were trying to stay in front of not too long ago.

If there is a glimmer of hope for the Wheat Kings, it is their opponent this weekend. The Regina Pats will meet with Brandon for a home-and-home this weekend. It has been a tight set of games between the two, as each team has won three of the six meetings this season. Yet, the Pats are heading into the weekend riding a seven-game losing streak, with their last win coming on February 22nd.

My Pick

Even though Brandon has an opportunity to sweep the weekend against Regina, it is hard to see Red Deer losing to Kootenay on Sunday, giving the Rebels the final playoff spot in the East.

Western Conference: Kamloops Surging Towards Kelowna

The U.S. Division has dominated the West this season (with the exception of Vancouver). So much to the point that five teams from the States have already punched their tickets to the postseason, including Tri-City and Seattle owning the two Wild Card spots. The one spot remaining sits in the B.C. Division, as the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets are neck-and-neck heading towards the end of the regular season.

Kelowna Holding On by Their Fingertips

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A month ago, if you had said the Rockets would be one point away from falling out the playoffs, you may have heard a chuckle or two. At one point, it looked like Kelowna would be able to steer clear of Kamloops. However, it has been a tough go as of late for the Rockets. They are 1-2-3 in the month of March, and have been mediocre at best since the trade deadline. It has been a roller coaster of a second-half for them. They have been on an odd pattern of wining a game, losing two in a row, win a game, lose three in a row. Sitting only point ahead the Blazers, Kelowna will need a big weekend to lock up the last playoff spot in the B.C. Division

However, they will have to do so in a home-and-home against the Vancouver Giants, the best team in the Western Conference. It is almost funny how good the Giants have been compared the rest of their division, as they sit 28 points ahead of second-place Victoria. Home ice certainly has not helped the Rockets this season against Vancouver, as the Giants have won all four meetings at the Prospera Place, outscoring the home team by a combined score of 11-2. The lone victory Kelowna has picked up against Vancouver was back on January 27th at the Langley Events Centre.

Coming in Blazing

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If you want to talk about a team playing playoff hockey during the regular season, look no further than the Kamloops Blazers. After losing six of seven games as February turned into March, the Blazers kicked it into high gear, and have reeled off four in a row to put them back in the hunt for the postseason. This includes a sweep last weekend over third-place Kelowna, and 5-1 and 8-0 thrashings of Spokane and Victoria, respectively. By far the hottest team in the West, Kamloops are right on the coattails of the Rockets.

They will have a home-and-home to end the regular season, and it will be against the Prince George Cougars. The Cougars will finish last in the Western Conference for the second season in a row, however they are coming off a win over Portland. Kamloops is 6-1 this season against Prince George, despite the Cougars winning the last meeting back on February 22nd.

My Pick

It is hard to see Vancouver fall off the run they are on against Kelowna, and Kamloops has handled the Cougars easily throughout the season. Kelowna may earn a split against the Giants, but I see the Blazers jumping into the final playoff spot with a sweep over the Cougars.

stats from WHL.ca