Front office shakeup
Last summer, former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman resigned from his position to remain in an advisory role for the last year of his contract. The move spurred a ton of chatter about whether or not he’d eventually return to the Red Wings, the team with which he spent his entire 22-year playing career. On Friday, that became reality as the Wings announced the hiring of Yzerman as their GM. It was a move that was a surprise to very few people. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik issued a very classy response with just a hint of snark at the very end:
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 19, 2019
As a result of Yzerman’s departure, there have been plenty of questions as to who else in the front office could join him in Detroit. Assistant GM Pat Verbeek seems like a strong possibility to head to the Motor City. He joined the Lightning when Yzerman was hired in 2010. The status of Tampa Bay’s director of amateur scouting, Al Murray, is unknown at this time. Murray has handled the Lightning’s drafts since 2011. If he departs, that would be a big blow since he’s played an integral part of the Lightning’s ability to scout and find gems in the middle rounds of the draft. You can be willing to bet that Bolts fans will be watching with baited breath as to who stays and who follows Yzerman to Detroit. If there is a shift in the front office, look for BriseBois to promote from within.
Prospects will get a chance in training camp.
If anyone gets dealt, there’s a solid chance that move(s) would be made with the idea of promoting youngsters from AHL Syracuse on cheap entry-level deals. Over the last couple of years, prospects like Alexander Volkov and Mitchell Stephens have been knocking on the door of the NHL. Another guy to really look out for is Alex Barre-Boulet, who just won the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie. He led the AHL with 68 points and finished in a tie for most goals in the league with 34.
On the blue line, Cal Foote made his case to be given a much longer look in camp next fall after a solid first full season in Syracuse. Dominik Masin, Ben Thomas, and Matthew Spencer will also be given opportunities to earn a spot on one of the bottom two or three spots on the Lightning’s blue line as well.
This won’t be a quiet offseason in Tampa.
If you’re a Lightning fan, this has been a week you’d probably rather forget. Between seeing the Bolts swept by the Blue Jackets and their former GM going home to a division rival, this is not a period of time that Lightning fans will fondly remember. A salary cap league necessitates change, and that time has arrived in Tampa. Their unexpected loss in Round 1 will expedite that process. Despite the inevitable tinkering with this roster, the Lightning don’t plan on tearing it all down. BriseBois is showing an unwavering faith in both his head coach and his main core of players. Time will tell if that faith gets rewarded.
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