Lightning add grit and toughness to the blue line
The Tampa Lightning did not make a big splash in free agency as the big name free agents like Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson signed elsewhere. Pavelski with Dallas, and Karlsson re-upping with the Sharks.
The Lightning also did not re-sign Dan Girardi or Anton Stralman, so the team was in need of some blue line help.
The Lightning came to terms with 29 year old Luke Schenn on a one year contract worth $700,000 annually. This will be Schenn’s sixth team in six years as he split time last year with Anaheim and Vancouver.
Schenn is known as a physical stay at home defenseman who has just 30 goals in 734 games throughout his career.
Schenn has good speed and the ability to recover when beaten. Loves to hit and block shots. The big weakness for Schenn is that he sometimes gets himself out of position.
Schenn will bring some grit and toughness to the blue line which is sorely needed on this Lightning team.
The Lightning also signed defensemen Luke Witkowski to a two way contract. Witkowski began his career with the Lightning in 2008, and most recently played with Detroit.
In 65 games with the Red Wings the last two seasons, Witkowski had one goal and four assists.
It is expected that Witkowski will spend the majority of the season with the Syracuse Crunch. Witkowski signs for 1.4 million over two years.
The Lightning blue line right now lines up with Hedman-Cernak as the number one pairing. Sergachev-Schenn the number two line, and Coburn-Rutta the third pairing.
Dominik Mason and Cal Foote from Syracuse will be given a long look to make this team in training camp.
In somewhat of a head scratching move that kind of caught everyone by surprise, the Lightning signed goaltender Curtis McElhinney to a two year contract.
The 36 year old McElhinney had his best season in his 11 year career playing in 33 games with the Carolina Hurricanes filling in for the injured Petr Mrazek in the playoffs.
McElhinney compiled a 20-11-2 record with a 2.58 goals against average.
With Andrei Vasilevskiy entrenched as the number one goalie in Tampa, what does that mean for Louis Domingue?
Domingue finished 21-5 with a 2.88 goals against average. Domingue was a big part of the Lightning 62 win season as he went 9-1 from November 21st to December 10th when Vasilevskiy was out with a lower body injury.
General Manager Julien Breisbois did not have to much to say about the signing. “These things always get sorted out,” BriseBois said. “I don’t have a timeline for that. Obviously, the sooner we can get some sort of resolution here, the better.”
According to a report from Renaud Lavoie, the Lightning are looking to move Louis Domingue whose contact will expire at the end of next season. The way Domingue played as the backup to Vasilevskiy last season, he will be in for a huge pay raise.
It is expected that McElhinney will back up Vasilevskiy and the Lightning will try to trade Domingue over the summer.