The third time is not the charm for Vaclav "Vinny" Prospal.
The third tenure of Prospal with the Lightning (with stopover's in Anaheim -- 2003-04 -- and Philadelphia -- 2007-08) has come to an end today as the Tampa Bay Lightning have notified Prospal of intentions to buy out the remainder of the left wing's contract.
Prospal, 34, was one of many Lightning disappointments last season with 19 goals, 45 points in 82 games. He also was minus-20; only three players in the league were worse.
"After fully evaluating our roster and our position in the salary cap world, we arrived at the decision to buy out Vaclav Prospal from his contract," GM Brian Lawton said in a statement. "We appreciate Vinny's service to the Lightning, but in the best interest of the team, we believe a difficult decision needed to be made in this case, and we are going to move ahead without him. We wish Vinny all the best."
And suddenly, the Lightning have another gaping hole -- offensively -- that needs to be addressed.
Everything was not perfect with Prospal. A minus-20 last season, Prospal was a defensive liability while contributing 45 points in 82 games last season. He was one of the only players that can boast staying healthy during a season where everyone on the Lightning roster was hampered by injuries.
This begs the question, however, what is in store next for the Lightning and how are they going to address a new found shortage on the wing?
After this move, the Bolts have three left wing's under contract for 2009-10 (not counting prospects in the system). There is a serious chance that the Lightning could use money saved in this deal to make a push for Alex Tanguay or Petr Sykora who are both rumored to be possible signings by the Lightning.
In fact, Jon Jordan reported via twitter that the Bolts did intend to spend the money saved through moving Prospal to sign someone.... which begs the question, who?
Also in the system who now find themselves in better position to fight for a roster spot are LW's Dana Tyrell (who impressed at rookie camp earlier this month) and 2009 3rd round draft pick Alex Hutchings.
It's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out in the next few days... I know Prospal has a loyal following among the Lightning faithful, he also has his detractors. Either way, the exuberant Prospal's career with the Bolts is over and it's time to look ahead to what comes next.