Rullier, We Hardly Knew Ye is confirming that defenseman Joe Rullier has signed a contract to play with Lukko Rauma of the Finnish SM-liiga next season. Rullier was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks organization at the trade deadlime this season in exchange for defenseman Doug O'Brien. Rullier's departure leaves the Lightning in need of a veteran defenseman to anchor the blueline corps in Norfolk next season.

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What a waste of a trade. Joe came to the Falcons with a groin injury and wasn't able to play when he arrived. He only played 10 games here with a total of 5 assists. And now Doug O'Brien is gone and there's nothing to show for it.

Tampa's got some work to do to fill Norfolk's roster. For the Ad's fans' sake, I hope they can do it.

Clean Slate

In some ways, I think it's better that the Lightning approach Norfolk with almost a clean slate. There are a few guys I think the Lightning should try to keep (Wanvig and Spina definitely, Corso and Milley maybe) but given how the team gave up for the final three months of the season, how much of the Falcons' veteran leadership should the Lightning really try to bring over?

The Lightning should be able to lure some pretty good borderline NHLers to compete for the 5th/6th/7th defenseman spots in Tampa. I'm not really concerned about replacing Rullier. Getting the right veteran forwards in here is tougher... especially because the Lightning need to find guys who can skate well enough to play their system. A guy like Corazzini, from all I've read, would fit that bill. Spina fits that bill. If they could bring one or two more forwards into the fold with the appropriate amount of speed, that would help address one of the two big problems Springfield had this season.

The other problem will have to be remedied by the young defensemen maturing more and becoming more comfortable as professionals. They struggled mightily at making good passes out of their zone to start the transition game. Too many blind clears off the boards. Too many turnovers. Too many missed breakouts that went the length for icing. Egener and Rogers need to get a lot better at that. Mihalik will need to get better at that.

You address those two areas and the team can be competitive. They've got the goaltending to win, even if Ramo goes up. Boutin can be a starter in this league and Koshechkin is already proven as one of the best netminders in Russia.


I would agree with your assessment here. I think it would be a mistake simply to move the club from Springfield to Norfolk with few if any changes.

We have been spoiled in Norfolk with very competitive teams which have gone to the playoffs every year. Even if we haven't lasted very long in the playoffs.

The difficulties experienced in Springfield from a competitive end are no secret, especially to us in Norfolk. But a reworking of the team in the manner you outlined would go a long way to quiet fears the fans in Norfolk have concerning the level of play exhibited while in Springfield.

We know it won't get fixed over this Summer alone. We would like to see the first steps taken towards improving the team. We will have to wait until after July 1 when the free agent signings begin before any evaluations can begin.

As fans we want at least a competitive team who puts out the effort. For me, you can't guarantee wins, but you can guarantee you best effort. That's why what happened in Springfield in the last three months of the season concerns me.

I have expressed on other boards when the skill and effort level of this year's Springfield team is mentioned, I have told them I do not expect to see a lot of those guys on this year's roster in Norfolk next year.

Let's go do it.

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