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A look ahead to the summer

Posted Apr 24, 2007 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Apr 24, 2007 at 11:58 PM

Have you ever been involved in a project, one that extends on and on, and you get so wrapped up in what you are doing and how you go about doing it that nothing around seems to matter as much. You get so involved that you don’t even realize what you are doing or, more importantly, how you are doing it. It was that way from me my sophomore year in college when I was working a 30-hour a week job waiting tables, taking 12 credit hours of classes in college, doing an internship three days a week all while preparing to get married.

Well, I was sitting around my couch today after doing some chores around the house (a place I have seen too little of lately) such as folding laundry, changing bed sheets in my son’s room, changing the air filter for my air conditioner, feeding my boys lunch, emptying the dishwasher, picking up my other boys from school (sounds like a full day, but my wife would probably disagree with that) and I realized how tired I was. I could have taken a long nap right then and there, you know the kind where you end up with some drool hanging from your bottom lip and when you wake up it takes a few moments to realize where you are and what time it is (the fact my two-year old and four-year old were running around prevented that, of course)

But after an extended two weeks of the season, it made me think how I ever made it through the 2004 season, when the season was extended for two months and must have featured over 10,000 miles or more in travel!!!!!!

Oh well, it comes with the job. The pay off is I get to spend a lot of time at home with my kids and it means I won’t miss my 4th-grader Kyle compete in the district Battle of the Books at the Tampa Convention Center Wednesday!!!!

Before I get there, however, it’s time to take a look ahead at Jay Feaster’s summer project as he tries to remold a championship caliber team.

First off, a couple of notes that didn’t make it into the paper from Monday’s exit interview meetings….

The Lightning have extended a contract to hulking winger Evgeny Artyukhin, who spent the past season playing in Russia. He has been offered a one-way deal believed to be worth around $475,000. But there is no guarantee his agent, Mark Gandler, will take the deal. But wouldn’t a line with Nick Tarnasky centering Andre Roy and Artyukhin put some fear in some teams? That line alone would make Tampa Bay six-feet taller on the ice!!!!!!!!!!

Also, been reading some of the reports on Bolts Prospects (great work by the way from Pete and Chad) in regards to defenseman Andreas Holmqvist, who enjoyed a good year in Sweden. Apparently there is still some internal debate going on in the organization as to whether Holmqvist has matured enough physically to handle the North American style. He failed miserably the first time around, although that was a few years ago. While he would have a tough task cracking the Lightning roster next season, he could show his stuff in Norfolk. With his offensive upside and ability to pass the puck he could be an intriguing reclamation project.

Also, I fully expect Jason Ward to be signed to a contract sooner rather than later. And really, if I was in his skates I would take whatever deal they offer and take it.

Now, on to what has to happen….

Tampa Bay needs a No. 1 goalie, that goes without saying, but they don’t grow on trees. I’m not convinced that Holmqvist is a No. 1 and I get the feeling the organization feels the same way. And I don’t think they can go into training camp next season with Holmqvist and Karri Ramo as one and two on the depth chart. I can’t imagine that the Feaster will be able to trade for one because the price would be too high and they don’t have the assests unless one of the Big Three are dealt (something I don’t see happening). And they won’t be able to find one through free agency because first there are not that many available and second Tampa Bay doesn’t have the ability to out bid another team.

That leaves the most likely option as bringing in a veteran who is willing to come in for a low salary with perhaps an option like the deal Dominik Hasek has in Detroit, which includes a base of $750,000 and a $1 million bonus if the Wings win the Stanley Cup. Others in that boat include Curtis Joseph, who the Lightning wanted to sign before last season but he wasn’t willing to accept not being handed the No. 1 job (maybe Tampa Bay would feel differently this year). And though Ed Belfour played out of his mind in Florida this year, his off-issues probably make him an unlikely candidate.

This avenue presents a risk in and of itself as bringing in a 40-year old goaltender could end in an injury at any moment.

Tampa Bay also needs to find a winger to play with Brad Richards. Richards had 70 points this season, but with a winger who could finish he would have been a lot closer to 100 points than he was to 50!!! This, I think is a situation that could be remedied easier and could be accomplished via trade. I don’t see much on the potential free agent market that could help.

I don’t think this team is far off. Marty St. Louis is back to form, Vinny Lecavalier has taken that next step, Richards will be better next year and Boyle should be right on par with what he did this year. Fill the two glaring holes and slot guys in more suitable spots - Ward on the third line, Perrin not being relied on to score 25 goals, etc… - and this team could easily be the class of the Southeast Division next season.

But Feaster has to pull the right triggers and find a way to shed himself of Marc Denis, two tasks that are not going to be easy.

It should be interesting to see what transpires this summer.

Reader Comments

Por (Mike Moulton) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

I agree that Holmqvist may not be a true No. 1 goalie and Ramo is largely untested.  I also hope the Bolts re-sign Ward he was a terrific addition.  I’m not sure where they can find help for Richards but maybe it is right under their noses—Karlsson.  Craig seemed to fall off this year too after the knee injurty maybe?  All in all it wil be interesting to see what Feaster and Tortorella can cook up for next year.

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Por (Anita Smith) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

All this stuff about Holmer is crazy.  His record was almost as good as Habby’s and in fewer games!  This guy is only going to get better and he’s going to come at a lesser price.  Personally I will be very disappointed in this organization if they dump him or keep him as a No. 2.  He’s too good and has too much potential to be in the backseat.  Torts and Feaster made some boneheaded choices last year, I hope we don’t see a repeat of that.

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Por (Judy Wayda) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

If the Lightning is looking for scoring on the 3rd and 4th lines for next year, there’s a couple of guys currently in the AHL/Chicago Wolves that have contracts expiring end of this season they should look at—Darren Haydar, who is currently the AHL MVP for this season and Jason Krog, who was brought up this season by Atlanta, then traded to the Rangers and in the brief time he was up with both teams scored against the Lightning in both games in which he played against them.  Currently back with the Wolves.  Take a look—two guys who would play their hearts out in the NHL and would fit within the constricted Lightning budget!

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Por (Steve McCormack) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

1. Goalie is an issue, but as in this blog, there is no easy solution. I don’t see much other choice than to go with Holmer and Ramo.
2. I agree completely a winger is needed to work with Richards, and I do not see anyone on their roster or system nor in the AHL that can fill this role. I’m not sure what we’d have to give up to get his type of player (don’t see us affording any FA that fits this role).
3. It would be great if Arty came back, I hope it happens.

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Por (nick johnson) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

i think the lightning should get slava kozlov, he’s only making 2.2 million or something like that. say they need to give him 3 million. they could get rid of sarich (even though he is really good) and bring up smaby. Kozlov is a proven scorer who is likely to have about 80 points next year.
arty is the best!

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Por (Mike Joyce) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

Before I left to come back to Bangkok, I heard a rumor that Feaster was talking with Jose Theodore about coming to the Bolts.

Any truth there?

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Por (Andrew Ryan) on April 25, 2007 (Suggest removal)

I love the Big 3. But if I were Davidson I’d have a hard time believing anything Feaster tries to sell. 4 consecutive playoff years…but didn’t we get knocked out in the first round 3 of those years with the Big 3?  Sure, we can tear it up for a game or two and embarrass any team. But the NJ series proved you can’t survive a playoff run when the core is logging as many minutes as they do.  We need depth, and I don’t see how you can afford anyone decent with the lack of cap space.  And without a more balanced team, I think any goalie will stuggle here.  No depth on the big club, a very weak free agency, and nothing at all in the minors. Something has to change, or it’s going to be more of the same as the last two years.

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Por (Renae Bohmer) on April 26, 2007 (Suggest removal)

First of all, Torts must go.  The Lightning have had a couple successful years not because of Tort, but IN SPITE of Torts!  His manner of coaching by intimidation and mind games has cost the team dearly.  Mr. Feaster, admit it- time for a change in coaching- He has been a PR nightmare! Either he goes, or you may be joining him next year.

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Por (carol patterson) on April 26, 2007 (Suggest removal)

Last I heard management was unhappy about “Artie” going back to Russia, I think they even said it was a slap in the face. Now they are talking about bringing him back?? We don’t need him, we need new management. Tortes has to color his hair so often because he spends so much time screaming obsentities on the bench. I wish I was unable to read his lips. They let some of the best players go instead of finding a line that they can work well on. wake up before we have no great players left.

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Por (Ed Andrews) on April 26, 2007 (Suggest removal)

I wish I could share your optimism about the future of the Bolts, but I can’t. The Big Three, while great, are crippling this team’s ability to bring in quality depth. Even if we had got past NJ, Torts was driving those guys so hard, it was obvious they couldn’t last another round. And what’s even worse, our prospects pool is literally the worst in the league. I don’t see how we can keep the Big Three together and, unfortunately, I see Marty going first. But before anyone else, I want Torts gone. His ranting and raving has to have worn thin among a lot of the players. As much as it kills me to say it, unless some hard decisions are made, the Bolts could be closer to the bottom of the division next year than the top.

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Por (Keith Soloninka) on April 28, 2007 (Suggest removal)

Bring Artyukhin back!  On the ice, his physical presence alone is a distraction to the opposing team which then seems to generate more Lightning scoring opportunities. He is super fast and hits like a MAC Truck. Tarnasky, Roy and Artyukhin?? Two words…WATCH OUT!

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Por (Barry Bell) on May 10, 2007 (Suggest removal)

Erik, aren’t we missing he elephant in the room here? Davidson has indicated that the Bolts will be working with a reduced payroll @approx 40 million next season. Has that changed?

One of the big three has to go, I can’t see it as an option.

This team also has had an incredible amount of good fortune in the injury department the last two years..with no depth they would have been sitting ducks if any premier player was to go down.

Suck it up, trade Marty for a good Dman and some cap space to do other things.

Bring in Belfor and the net is solved.

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