Lightning ready for expansion draft

The Vegas Golden Knights will fill out their roster tonight in a nationally televised draft at 8PM on NBCSN. Each team had to have their list of protected players to the league last Saturday by 4PM. The Lightning protected six forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender.

The Lightning protected players are as follows:  Stamkos, Johnson, Palat, Callahan, Namenstikov, and Nikita Kucherov from the forward position. On defense, The Lightning protected Victor Hedman, Coburn, and Anton Stralman. G Andrei Vasilevskiy was the protected goalie.

That means young guys like Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekoek will be available for Vegas to snatch up if they so desire. Jason Garrisonn and Andrei Sustr, are the veteran defensemen that could head west. JT Brown and Yanni Gourde are the big name forwards that the lightning could lose.

It is expected that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will have side deals in place with Vegas to prevent them from taking Dotchin or Koekoek. I would expect Jason Garrison or Andrei Sustr to head to Vegas with a conditional draft pick. Garrison carries a hefty salary of 4.6 mill a year, and with that off the books that would free up cash to re-sign Johnson and Palat.

The Lightning can only loose one player and with the Lightning looking to dump some salary,  my guess is a deal would be in place for Garrison. With the Lightning dealing Jonathan Drouin last week to Montreal for defensive Prospect Mikhail Sergachev, I think the door is still open for another trade to bring more blue line help to the Lightning.

The Lightning defense as a group struggled last year and going forward, that is the biggest opportunity on this team. Sergachev is a 18 year kid with lots of junior experience, but no NHL experience to speak of. The Lightning will give him every opportunity to make the club in camp. If not he will be sent back to the juniors, as he is too young to play in the AHL.

I am hoping that this kid is the real deal. You hate to give up a talent like Drouin who really came on the second half of last season, But the Lightning do have players at Syracuse ready to step in offensively and contribute at the NHL level.

Yzerman has taken some heat for this trade but remember, this guy has a pretty good track record. How about the Cory Conacher for Ben Bishop deal? That one turned out pretty good. It will take a few years to really evaluate this deal and determine if it actually was a good trade for the Lightning.

–Victor Hedman will be at the awards show in Vegas tonight. He is one of three nominees for the Norris trophy which is given to the top defensemen in the league. Erik Karlson of Ottawa and Brent Burns of San Jose are the other nominees with Burns expected to win the award.

–G Peter Budaj signed a 2 year contract extension this week.

–The 2017-18 NHL scheduele will be released tomorrow at 3PM. The Lightning will have their home opener Friday October 6 against the Florida Panthers.

IMG_1699Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.