Post-Deadline Review

In case you missed it, here were my initial reactions to the Lightning's trades yesterday morning: click here

Now that the deadline has come and gone and Yzerman has spoken about his decisions, some thoughts...

I'm legitimately surprised Yzerman didn't acquire a forward with size. Kassian and Stewart were both available, and both certainly have their share of warts. I have concerns about the Lightning matching up against a team like Boston, but they should be relatively okay against fellow speed teams. The defense is better without question and when you put the two deals together, as Yzerman purposefully did, the Lightning made out well. As Yzerman said in his press conference, Connolly's loss can be absorbed. I think that's a bit of an understatement, actually. I'm still amazed that Connolly fetched two second rounders as I think he's more Cory Conacher than he is Tyler Seguin (not a direct comparison in production, but an example of a player who took off with a new team). I do wish him the best of luck with Boston. That fanbase won't be patient, especially if he's being billed as an answer for a team longing for offensive help all season. He's a great guy, though, and these are human beings we're talking about. The effort was always there with Connolly, he just couldn't turn the corner, and got a bit of a raw deal at the beginning of last season when he played well enough to make the team but was passed over by the Top Gun Line (Palat-Johnson-Panik) chemistry. Yes, Connolly was getting better, but he was still blocked. Palat, Kucherov, Killorn, Filppula, Drouin, and Erne are or are projected to be ahead of him on the near-future depth chart either due to better skill in Connolly's player-type or the fact others (Killorn, Erne) can provide some size and better puck retrieval ability. This was a lot like the Conacher situation.

As for Coburn, remember that the Lightning were fishing in a shallow pool. There were about 6-12 decent options to acquire and the Lightning got arguably the best defense-first option. If not, it was close. And they paid for it. Yzerman wasn't fishing in the NHL ocean. He didn't have Pietrangelo or Doughty to choose from. I thought his choice was as good as any other that was available, though Coburn doesn't kill two birds with one stone and help the power play.

In that sense, I thought there might be a chance the Lightning would go after Marek Zidlicky or someone like him to play on the third pair or even as the 7 in order to help the power play. The power play did not get better this week, so the answer lies within. In my opinion, they have to utilize their playmakers more (like Drouin and Kucherov) regardless if they've gone through the learning curve the vets have had to go through. Strategy doesn't appear to be changing, so creativity has to take over. Cooper doesn't have time to send a message to Drouin or the vets anymore. If Filppula isn't cutting it on the power play, put the rookie in there. Drouin has to help himself though and take better care of the puck. He (and Kucherov) has to have the puck in space, though, and both should be used more for possession entries on the power play.

Syracuse got a little bit of help when Corrente was moved to San Antonio for Martindale. That will help with forward depth in the 'Cuse, but not much in the skill department. The Lightning are down to 12 forwards on the NHL roster and Namestnikov was not recalled to Tampa Bay for the Sabres scrimmage. Vladdy, Marchessault, Carter Ashton, and possibly Tanner Richard are at the top of the recall list, probably in that order. It could get ugly in Syracuse if Tampa Bay gets the injury bug - which will inevitably happen in the postseason.

Help may be on the way, though. Brayden Point, a highly skilled 18-year-old playing in WHL Moose Jaw, is about to be available and can join the Crunch. Point's Warriors are five points out of a playoff spot with 10 games remaining, and it's not looking good for the top-heavy team. Point can be signed to a temporary contract when his WHL season is over and he will add much-needed skill to the Crunch's lineup - especially if Vladdy or Marchessault are in Tampa. Other candidates to join the Crunch are Matt Peca of Quinnipiac University (Bobcats have top seed in conference playoffs, however), who can play in a scoring role; Cristiano DiGiacinto of OHL Windsor (if Syracuse wants a bottom line option - not sure it's needed); and center Cam Darcy, who will probably go at least two rounds in the QMJHL playoffs. Don't forget lefty puckmoving defenseman Kodie Curran of the University of Calgary and goalies Adam Wilcox (Univ of Minnesota) and/or Clay Witt (Northeastern Univ.), too. I'd personally like to see Curran step in, and one of the goalies has to. The Gophers don't look like they'll last long in the post-season.

Players who won't be available are Adam Erne (his Remparts are Memorial Cup hosts so even if they're upset in playoffs they keep practicing for the Memorial Cup tournament in late May), and Anthony DeAngelo, whose Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds will go at least three rounds, if not all the way through the Memorial Cup.

The Lightning has 10 picks in this summer's draft, so the Yzerplan of draft-develop-deploy is still in effect. I wouldn't expect a power forward to be added in the offseason, however, with Adam Erne able to step in at least by Christmas. Connolly's exit and Morrow's impending exit open up spots for Vladdy and Erne and/or Marchessault (who will require waivers). Tampa Bay has to have better physical balance in their front lines, though, so I'd give the not to Erne for playing time next fall. I don't expect the Lightning to use all 10 picks as some will be used to move up in the draft to get certain players - which they did twice last year (including moving up just one spot to nab Point). I also don't expect many - if any - offseason additions from outside the organization as almost everyone is under contract moving forward. Moving a couple contracts out (Carle? Filppula?) may be on the to-do list, but doubtful in the case of Filppula. I'll do a projected organizational roster for next year soon.