#BPMailbag for November 19, 2015


This week there were so many questions into the #BPMailbag I ran out of time to address them like I usually do on the Bolt Prospects Podcast.

So here’s the text version. You can make up your own voice inflections and sarcasm.

Stephen via email:

I've thought this a while, but this year it's become apparent that Stamkos is not a 10 million dollar a year player. I can't remember who said it, but he doesn't have the Kane ability to make things happen on his own. Also his hands and passing ability frustrate me at times

No doubt this is coming up in contract talks. At this point do you think he's going to test free agency because you gotta think the Leafs will pay him over 10 million regardless of these issues.

Yeah, that was me on a recent podcast. The comment was if you’re going to pay a guy that much, then he has to (and to use a basketball reference) be able to create his own shot or make his linemates significantly better. Thinking of Kane, Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin. I think the difference between the elite scorers Ovechkin and Stamkos is Ovechkin is also a physical presence and is legitimately feared by the opponent to the point where they gameplan for him. Stamkos is an elite sniper, so Yzerman has to decide if an elite sniper is worth 10+ million. I honestly don’t know, because after all, goals are the currency of the NHL. To me, Stamkos has always and will always need a Marty St. Louis to be an elite producer. I think that’s why I/we have been pulling for Drouin to be handcuffed to him. That’s why Filppula worked well with him after Marty left, but Filppula doesn’t have much left and struggles to keep up with the pace Stamkos sets. This is yet another reason why Drouin was the right choice over Seth Jones. Elite playmakers are hard to find. So… the handcuff is there, is it worth it to give Stamkos that money to have an elite finisher on the club? Again, I honestly don’t know yet.

Frank in Syracuse via email:
I just listened to your podcast about possible trades. Can Tampa get a top 4 defenseman for Bishop? Can Vasy carry the load with Gudlevskis the occasion backup?

Yes, Bishop could fetch that, and Calgary needs goaltending and has a hoard of defensemen. They’re the best match there (over Edmonton), but the second part of the question is key. Gudlevskis let in a couple of goals he should have stopped last night in Syracuse again, so his consistency and focus issues are still there despite his strong(er) play to start the year. You want to be at least three deep in net, but at what price? (Remember when they dealt Tokarski for Desjardins because they were concerned about the No. 3’s ability to fill in at the NHL level?) Bishop has another year on his deal, and his value is high, but I think Yzerman waits until next year to move him. Vasy is the future No. 1, no question about it. The one thing that could expedite that is if Yzerman is desperate for a defenseman. I fear for the day when/if one of the current top-4 Lightning D go down for a significant time with injury. It’s going to be ugly. There’s a big drop off from 3-4 to 5-6.

do you think sheer fatigue from the long playoff run is impacting our early season record? #bpmailbag

I really don’t. I think that will show up in January or February. I think trying to combat fatigue by not intending to play at same increased playoff level is hurting, actually. They can’t find their groove. At all. And another defenseman capable of playing 18 minutes is needed to help fight against January and February’s fatigue.

this might be too late for pod, but is my favorite color red or green? Wrong Blue, trick question #BPMailbag

You’ve done well with your life, Dave. Blue is the best color, though, so you have that going for you.

A Leafs group is speculating they should target Vasy, reality would suggest Bishop, but what could they offer? #BPMailbag

They could offer absolutely anything and everything, but he’s not going anywhere. Vasy and Hedman are the must-keeps of the must-keeps. I don’t think Toronto has the assets to acquire a marquee player (ie Stamkos) or elite prospect (ie Vasilevskiy) unless they win the lottery and trade the pick that would land Austen Matthews, which they won’t do. Toronto’s in a hold-and-build pattern for the next five years.

I like Bishop but do you think packaging him with Carle would make trading 25 possible? That's A LOT of cap space. #BPMailbag

The first key is to get Carle to waive his no trade clause. The way to do that may be sitting him until he waives it, but that’s not a “world class” way of doing things. The second key is, as you indirectly mentioned, getting someone to take Carle’s contract and term, which is no small task. I think a package deal is probably the only way it gets done. I’ll be surprised if Carle is with the Lightning next year. Buyout?

how many Lightning players does it take to screw in a lightbulb? #BPMailbag

At this point, it’s irrelevant, because a ladder rung would break or the bulb would crack or the fuse would blow. Some kind of bad break would occur.

But seriously though, how many teams have a giraffe in their lineup? #BPMailbag

Giraffe = overly tall player who has trouble with coordination and quick movements like change of direction. Sustr, at times, looks like this type of player. And really, you’d be surprised with the success of Zdeno Chara how many tall defensemen have been drafted/acquired (Hello, Vlad Mihalik, Kristian Kudroc, Andy Rogers) with the hopes of finding the next Chara. It won’t happen. Neither will any player under 5’7” be the next Marty St. Louis.

Should we start the #TankForMathews #BPMailbag For real. How long is our Cup window if this is a disappointing season?

Wow, that was fast. The hockey gods could make up for their behavior by giving Tampa Bay Austen Matthews if Stamkos leaves, but the Lightning would have to be pretty bad to have a legitimate shot. The thing about the playoffs, which are still very much a possibility (unlike the division title, IMO), is you just have to get in. I think the Lightning could do some damage in the playoffs if they get in, and that’s a long way away. I haven’t completely lost hope.

Why does Carle keep getting 20 minutes a night when he plays like an AHL player? Sending him down would be a wakeup call. #BPMailbag

He’d have to go through waivers to be sent down, and he’d likely pass with his contract and term attached. I think the team believes Carle gives them the best player on the third pair, left side. I think that may have been true to start the season, but it’s time to give someone else a chance. Waiving him isn’t out of the question, but probably a few months away at best/worst.

Why are the players afraid of going hard to the net? They talk about getting ugly goals over and over again but nothing changes #BPMailbag

That’s one of the multi-million dollar questions. It seems so simple. Some players are expected to do it more than others, and others need to start doing it. Soon, ideally, it will be a case of if you don’t do it you get called out in the film room. Then you sit. Then you’re gone. Listen to the latest podcast (No. 43) about how their change in o-zone strategy doesn’t match the personnel.

Is Yzerman considering any form of shakeup trade? Filppula, Killorn, Carle, [Sustr] have been pretty awful so far. #BPMailbag

He told the Times’ Joe Smith that he doesn’t believe in making a trade just to shake things up. Of the players you mentioned, I think only Killorn has a future with the club, and that’s as a complementary winger. Yes, he could up his game a little, but he’s far from the reason the team is in the situation they’re in. Filppula and Carle have no trade deals and problematic contracts.

Our defenders seem incapable of moving the puck up ice (except #77 and #6). Why are DeAngelo and Nesterov still in the AHL? #BPMailbag

This has been a point of emphasis on the podcast. DeAngelo is getting a crash course in how to play his own zone in the pros. He’s doing well, but isn’t there yet. There may come a time shortly when they’re willing to sacrifice some own-zone lapses for better offense from the defense. Nesterov has been passed over yet again for a recall. To put it simply, he’s been bad in Syracuse. Lots of turnovers and mistakes. Very erratic. He needs time down there to refind his game. I think the team’s current crisis (?) is accelerating the DeAngelo project. Koekkoek would be another good choice for someone who can move the puck. Blujus behind him. Taormina a no-frills option.

when will we stop sucking? 90% of the time everyone skates around like they have no clue what they're doing #BPMailbag

Ninety-percent of the time, fans get angry every time.

why don't our defensmen take shots that can be tipped? What happened to the wrist shot through traffic? #BPMailbag

Step 1 is getting a guy to go to the front of the net. Step 2 finding the time, space, and lanes to do what you mentioned. All have been an issue so far.

How do Bolts deal with the passengers? Some had no trade clauses. #BPMailbag

If it gets bad enough, you sit them or eventually waive them (assuming you can’t deal them). I don’t think TB is there yet. I’d like to see accountability throughout the lineup and not just the young forwards. Whatever results in the Lightning putting their best lineup on the ice every night.

#BPMailbag if you could use a flavor of ice cream to describe the teams play, how vanilla are we at the moment?

Picture a bowl of generic, plain vanilla ice cream from a box, and half of the ice cream was in a sun beam and is soft and melted, and the other half was so freezer burnt it may never thaw. Now try to mix that all together. It’s just a mess.

when will Jon Cooper learn how to utilize strategy in a professional sport? #BPMailbag

I think they’re okay 5 on 5 as long as the effort is there and some willingness to go the hard areas. He’s made several adjustments game-to-game to try to up the offense while keeping shots against down. I think there’s a big problem (still) on the power play and they may need to bring in someone to fix it. Some kind of consultant.

Bold move to make a statement - switch the C to Callahan? #BPMailbag

I don’t think there’s a need to. Plus, if you do, you’re really telling Stamkos that he’s not part of the immediate future. If Stamkos ends up elsewhere next year, the C likely goes to Callahan. Hard to see how it doesn’t, especially if Cooper’s still coaching, which is expected.

in an ideal world, who is gone at the deadline and who comes in #BPMailBag

Assuming everyone is healthy, I think Filppula and Carle would be gone, likely with Tampa Bay or Boston’s second rounder in 2016, for a defenseman capable of second pair minutes. The other changes can be made internally. Bishop gets dealt at the draft.

why does my team hurt me this way? #BPMailbag

Sometimes we hurt the ones we love. Always remember, they’re humans playing a game. Mistakes will always be there. Learn to prioritize and/or shelter yourself from other teams’ fans on social media who were dead silent during the playoffs last year during the Lightning’s run. Common sense and perspective are missing in our sports-loving society in which everyone has a voice now. Before you didn’t realize how dumb the _____ fanbase was.

who gets the call up first: Witkowski, Koekkoek, DeAngelo?

This one’s easy since Witko was just called up. Koekkoek is probably the next option unless Witko doesn’t work out on the right side and they’d rather have offense there.

Team needs a dramatic shake up... switch Carle and Sustr for Koekkoek and DeAngelo? (If only it were that easy...) #BPMailbag

I would have taken Koekkoek and Witkowski now, but those two you mentioned would be my second choice for a pair and are a big part of the Lightning’s future. Possibly together, though DeAngelo’s primarily been with Taormina in Syracuse.

should Tyler Johnson go back to #63? #bpmailbag

*Reported for spam*
*Offensive material*

Will Brayden Point be charged with arson for lighting the world on fire? #BPMailbag

Canada is lenient with arson charges. Usually just an exchange of apologies is necessary. Experts are saying Point may be the best player in all the CHL this year. He’s by far the leading contender for WHL MVP. Enjoy.

at what point does Cooper stop with "dems da breaks" and look as pissed as he says his team is? #BPmailbag

I think he has, privately. Publically he’s trying not to show panic. I think it’s okay to show a sense of urgency. It does get annoying, though. They say you earn your breaks, and he’s trying to up their energy level.

Who is better: Swedish defensemen or Russian scorers? #BPMailbag

Elite No. 1 defensemen are becoming the rarest find in today’s NHL. The “newish” rules have put such a priority on mobility, intelligence, and the ability to move the puck quickly and accurately that I think coaches would rather have a Nik Lidstrom over an Ovechkin. Fans would probably differ.

#BPMailbag With how well Yan is playing for a stacked Shawinigan team, do we start looking at him in same light as Kucherov?

I don’t think so. I think Kucherov was at another level, skill-wise, at the same age. Yan was not impressive in Estero at all, but he’s doing fine with all the time and space the QMJHL offers. Kucherov was a driver and a finisher. Yan is a finisher more than a driver. (see Stamkos conversation, but Yan doesn’t have the finishing ability Stamkos has)

is there any scoring left in Syracuse to call up? Day to day Injury epidemic in Tampa.

If you think it’s bad in Tampa, Syracuse is about to go to St. John’s with 10 healthy forwards, some of whom were just in the ECHL and/or are rookies.

what meme sums up the Lightning season the best?

Any of the Bad Luck Brian ones, easily.

What does the roster look like 3 years from now? (realistic and best case scenarios) #BPMailbag

(Using the current organizational roster, using a "realistic/most probable as it appears right now" scenario)

2018-2019 with Stamkos:


Bubble: Yan, Gusev


Bubble: Dotchin, Zuhlsdorf


(Stamkos staying means Johnson and one of Callahan/Stralman, gone while hoping/praying for a solid cap increase)

2018-2019 without Stamkos:


Bubble: Yan, Gusev


Bubble: Blujus, MacLeod, Dotchin, Zuhlsdorf