Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Lightning still retooling, add a defenseman
Posted Jul 8, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Jul 8, 2008 at 01:00 AM
While not official, Tampa Bay is expected to announced that defenseman Andrew Hutchinson has agreed to join the Lightning. While I know this isn’t the veteran defenseman many of you have been looking for, at least its a defenseman with NHL experience, limited as it is.
But I’m not convinced how much more they can add at this point. They currently have seven defenseman signed to one-way contracts (including Janne Niskala and Hutchinson, who was part of the Carolina team that won the 2006 Stanley Cup), and that doesn’t include Matt Smaby or Mike Lundin. So unless they use some of that young talent in a deal, I’m not sure where they are going to find the fit for some veteran experience.
And here’s a hint from owner Len Barrie as to what they may have in mind.
““You can hear from me first, our defense is better than people think,’’ Barrie said. “That’s why we are loading up on forwards because I really, really like our young defense.’‘
Barrie didn’t flat out say that they have no intention of bringing in more on defense and he did indicate that more deals are in the works, especially since they have 14 forwards on one-way deals, not counting Evgeny Artyukhin, who is expected to be signed this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Now, I’m not going to rule out that the Lightning could easily add another defenseman by packaging a forward or two plus one of its young defenseman for a top-level blue liner. I’m also not going to rule out the possibility of keeping track of the waiver wire for a contract another team might be looking to dump. And let’s not forget that they have two first round picks and a pair of seconds in next years draft, so the assets are there.
“I don’t think in the last little while you could say that Tampa Bay has had depth; now we have some depth to make some moves,’’ Barrie said.
But what those moves could be will make for some interesting conversation in the coming days. Hey, the fans were promised a radically different looking roster in October, correct? Well, you’ve got it.
One other note, Lightning chief scout Jake Goertzen was fired on Monday. An original member of the Lightning, Goertzen spent 16 seasons with the team, first as a Western League scout before making his way up chief scout. The past few years he has been responsible for running the draft for Tampa Bay. Goertzen is a top-notch person and he will be missed within the scouting staff. No doubt, he’ll be back working for somebody soon.
Here is a comment Goertzen sent out in his email informing those he knows that he was let go: “It has been a good run. I have been very fortunate in my hockey life, to have been with one pro organization as long as I was. Life will go on.’’