Five questions, five answers series part 2: The Lightning

The "Summer of Stevie" is over, in Tampa. Here are five questions for writer Mike Corcoran about the Lightning, and where things go from here. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"The Summer of Stevie" is at its end. For the third year in a row, there have been a number of changes on the Bolts roster and on the bench. Players came and went while Steve Yzerman remade the team.

With the end of this summer of change comes questions about the Lightning: What's been done, where they are going from here, what yet needs to be rectified and improved?

Mike Corcoran of Creative Loafing, who covers the Lightning beat for the local indie newspaper, is our second Bolts writer to take part in our "Five questions, five answers" series. Mike gives us his impression on the changes and on some questions that still linger with the roster.

There have been plenty of moves by new GM Steve Yzerman during the 2010 off-season. Which move do you see as having the biggest effect on the Lightning?


Obviously the biggest move that Steve Yzerman made was acquiring Simon Gagne. I don't think anyone can argue against that answer. I also am a huge fan of the additions of Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina. And you cant forget Dan Ellis. But the move that I personally think will pay the biggest dividends as the season plays out will be the re-signing of Steve Downie to such a cap friendly number. Some of you are probably scratching your heads at why I think so highly of an RFA re-signing, but its really quite simple. It is my personal opinion that after the Stamkos extension is complete, Steve Yzerman will at least discuss the possibility of extending Simon Gagne. This signing at this price makes that discussion possible.
What about the most under-the-radar move? One that didn't get much attention but may end up paying big dividends?

There are two "moves" that have really stood out to me. I use quotations, because they are not individual player moves. The first was clearing as much cap space as Yzerman did. When he was hired, many suggested that his hands would be tied because of all the big contracts that were still on the books. Yzerman responded by getting out from under most of the big contracts and creating space to work with in the future, while improving, on paper at least, the current product. The second move was creating competition for roster spots in camp. Looking up and down the roster there are a lot of spots to still be won, and competition is a great thing.

Name one facet of coaching where Guy Boucher needs to improve the Bolts on.

I would like to see the defense more physical in front of their net. Anyone who watched the team regularly last year saw opposing teams score goal after goal after goal from within three to five feet of the goal crease. If this team is to have any kind of success this year, that is going to have to be something that needs to improve.
Many people -- fans, local beat writers -- have voiced concern about not carrying a gritty forward that can enforce when called upon (a la Zenon Konopka). Is this really a big issue with the club?

I dont see this as a huge issue for on ice success. Dont forget that Steve Downie had over two hundred penalty minutes last year. The idea that appears to be taking shape here is that if a team wants to take stupid penalties, let them, and the power play will take care of the enforcing. Not to mention that there isn't as much priority in traditional enforcers anymore. I would much rather have four lines that can score at anytime.
Besides physicality, is there another weakness that you can see with roster that needs to be overcome or improved upon before the season begins / during the season?

I honestly believe the goaltending is improved, but until I see it consistently on the ice, that is the first answer that comes to mind. Also, there are A LOT of bodies competing for spots on the bottom two lines, so I would like to see that sort itself out fairly quickly once camp gets under way. Other then that, I feel like Yzerman has done a great job filling the holes that did exist with this roster. Now its time to go out and prove they are worthy of some of the offseason hype they have gotten.
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