A Quick Tampa Bay Lightning Abbreviated Season Preview
NHL hockey is back!
It took a long 16 hour negotiating session in New York yesterday, but the NHL and NHLPA hashed out an agreement in principle around 6 a.m. today.
The NHL did not announce the start date of the season or the number of games each team will play, but it is expected to be a 48 or 50 game season starting on either January 15 or January 19 with teams only playing within their respective conferences. The Bolts had January 15, 17 and 19 as scheduled home games, thus it is a good bet that they will open the season at the Forum.
The new CBA still has to be drafted and ratified by both sides. It is for ten years with an eight year opt-out.
The salary cap for this season will remain at $70.2 million. The proposed 2013-2014 salary cap is $64.3 million. According to Capgeek.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning has $58.2 million committed to 15 players this season. This includes injured defenseman Mattias Ohlund who almost certainly will retire or be bought out in the summer. (The new CBA affords each team two contract buyouts, but they must be exercised in the summer) If that happens, the Bolts will be at approximately $54.5 million with 14 players for the 2013-14 season. And for those asking, Vincent Lecavalier is safe and will not be bought out.
The Lightning forwards are Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone, Nate Thompson, BJ Crombeen, Adam Hall, Dana Tyrell, Tom Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot. With JT Brown injured, Brett Connolly is the best bet to round out the top six and Alex Killorn has a shot at a lower line forward. With the abbreviated season, Cory Conacher may still be a year away.
Tampa Bay has eight defensemen on one way contracts. They are Victor Hedman, Sami Salo, Matt Carle, Eric Brewer, Brian Lee, Brendan Mikkelson, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Keith Aulie who is waiver eligible. Hedman and Mikkelson are the only two Tampa Bay players currently under contract in Europe.
General Manager Steve Yzerman has strengthened the organizational depth of the Lightning immeasurably in his short tenure. Although Tampa Bay has a wealth of young talent in their system, it looks like most of the Syracuse Crunch players will remain in the minors at the start of the season. As stated above, it looks like only two forwards have an opportunity to make the NHL club in this shortened season.
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