Monday, July 9, 2007

Where the Bolts are...

With UFA signings and trades slowing down, I thought it was time to see just where the Lightning are at, and what they still need. From a numbers standpoint, the Bolts are only $3 million under their self imposed cap of $44 million (currently at $40.8 mil). That leaves only that $3 million to sign RFA's Ryan Craig, who at present, is heading to arbitration, and Paul Ranger. Also sitting out there are Nolan Pratt and Doug Janik as UFA's.

It should be no problem to fit Craig and Ranger under the "Bolt Cap", but will there be enough to possibly bring Pratt back? Would they want to? Currently, the Lightning have 4 defenseman signed; Boyle, Kuba, Lukowich and O'Brien. Once they get Ranger signed, that leaves one defensive slot open. Pratt's fate with the Lightning could rest in Ranger and Craig's hands. If those two eat up too much of the remaining cap space, which is likely, Pratt may get replaced by a cheaper Smaby, new signee Jancevski , or even Janik.

So that all brings us around to what has been the focus of the most speculation this offseason, goaltending. Once all the RFA signings are done, the Bolts will most likely be up against their self imposed cap. This will leave no room to sign a UFA goalie ala Esche, Cujo, Belfore, etc. The Bolts will be left with a dilema, keep Denis on the roster along with his $2.8 million cap hit, cut him and eat $900K over the next 4 years, or try to deal him. I would love to see him traded, but who wants the guy after last season? There are plenty of stiffs (Aebescher, Burke) out there that can play the back up role just as well but for a lot less. But you never know. If I were a betting man, I would say something will get done, and Denis will be playing somewhere else next season. Bryzgalov anyone?

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JPFDeuce said...

The Lightning acquiring Lampman, singing Jancevski and having Smaby, Rogers and Egener waiting in the wings makes Pratt a moot point.

At current, Jancevski is supposedly the #6 D-man and while veterans are preferred, the Lightning need to give their defensive prospects a taste of the NHL at some point.

Ranger is the most important signing right now, at least to me. Knowing Edmonton is chasing RFA's to hit the salary floor and bolster their imploded franchise sets off alarms for me.