Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Lightning to find help on defense plus other notes
Posted Jul 10, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Jul 11, 2008 at 12:10 AM
Had the chance this afternoon to get introduced to new vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton. Spent about an hour talking with him on a variety of topics, including a few of the newsworthy variety that I wanted to pass along. First off, don’t worry, the defense you see right now, most likely won’t be the defense you see suit up in Prague in October. Sounds like there is a plan to try to find some help in that department, and considering the lack of overall experience on the blue line, that’s an encouraging sign because if not, this would be your top eight on defense - Filip Kuba, Paul Ranger, Shane O’Brien, Alex Picard, Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby, Janne Niskala and Andre Hutchinson (yes, it was a typo, I forgot about Matt Carle, who should log top-four minutes. So many new faces, so many that slip through the crevices of my mind .
Here’s a sampling of what Lawton had to say about the plans in works for improving the defense:
“We have some nice depth and some nice pieces I’m very happy about, but I still don’t think we’re there yet. We still have some work to do,” he said.
The most likely option is using some of the team’s excess forwards to land some help. There’s not much out there in terms of free agents, so that route is virtually closed off (remember, they tried to go after the likes of Mike Commodore in free agency and were in the running for Rob Blake). The waiver wire option has been brought up, but Lawton said it’s a bit premature to be thinking in terms of sifting through players on waivers.
Some other quick hit notes:
The contract of Vinny Lecavalier, which is expected to be announced on Tuesday, is apparently a bit off base of what has been reported. TSN and Sportsnet were both stating that the final salary number would be in the $77 million range on a nine-year deal. Sounds like the final salary number might be different from that.
“The numbers are not as advertised,” Lawton said Thursday. “We are putting the final touches on it. Everything you have read and all that’s been reported in the media, they are all false. We’ll announce it all next week.”
* While Jay Feaster still holds the title as Lightning general manager, that situation should be resolved in the near future.
Lawton said he is in discussions with Feaster about how everything is going to be resolved, with a buy out the topic that’s making the rounds right now.
In the meantime, Lawton said Thursday that newly hired assistant GM Tom Kurvers will share the title with current assistant GM Claude Loiselle. While Lawton didn’t say what titles each would hold, Kurvers will be primarily responsible for player personnel issues while Loiselle will handle legal issues, including negotiating contracts and matters involving the collective bargaining agreement.
Lawton also mentioned that assistant coaches Mike Sullivan and Jeff Reese, who have one year remaining on their contracts, have been speaking to other teams.
The members of the team’s training and equipment staff are all expected to remain with the team.
Lawton said no decision has been made on video coach Nigel Kirwan, but Lawton stated he has heard plenty of positives about how he does his job.