Well, I had an early afternoon appointment with a doctor and I have been out of the loop for the last few hours... As of this morning, reported in the St. Petersburg Times, the Lightning hadn't even begun negotiations with #26 post-Lecavalier signing and what do I find the moment I walk in the door and check up on the NHL and the news of the day?
Martin St. Louis: SIGNED, SEALED, and DELIVERED.
Six Years and 31.5 Million dollars is what it took... That's a quick change from the pouting we saw post-Lecavalier signing from Marty last week. This will likely mean Marty will end his career in a Bolts uniform (and if all goes well, #26 would be the first number retired by this franchise). It's a dynamic Lightning fans have got to be enthralled about - Marty is back.
But enough of the positive hoopla for a moment because this puts the hurt on the Lightning.
Fredrik Modin is a Free Agent after this season, Brad Richards is an RFA. I believe Pavel Kubina is a Free Agent after the season and Cory Sarich also is an RFA. That's a lot of talent to ink and not a lot of money to do it with.
Having Brad Richards resigned is imperative. I don't care how much Lecavalier is the franchise in the eyes of executives and fans alike. It's Richards play that has been that of a franchise player over the course of his career. Having him sign a one year deal and then explore free agency in 2007 would be painful at best.
Kubina is another story - the oft maligned Czech has come into his own on the blue line and having a failure to resign him would be another blow to a defensive corps that is already lacking two consistent bodies (Jassen Cullimore and Brad Lukowich). Of course, this blow could be softened by defensive prospects Mike Egener or Andy Rogers stepping in - but that would likely turn into a trial-by-fire.
It's great to have Martin signed, as it sets things up for this season (as there is only one other unsigned vet this team needs to ink - Dave Andreychuk)... but in the long term, you gotta see it as a bit too much over a long, long time... And unfortunately, visions of Darren Puppa's post 1995-96 contract dance in my head - and his injuries that followed him.
Enough with the bi-polar post. When does Training Camp start??