The Raw Charge "Question of the Week" is a weekly feature that poses a question to Raw Charge writers and sometimes other writers within the Boltosphere, discussing the ins and outs of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It has been documented by many, including those of us here at Raw Charge, that the Tampa Bay Lightning needs some work on the defense and goaltending; or as some fans put it, the goaltending and defense. And since the goaltending can be considered the last line of the defense, it can all be one big mess.
Yes, it is a bit early to have any kind of firm idea of what the Bolts will do this coming offseason and by the end of the playoffs the wish list might be totally different. The most pressing issue, for most Lightning fans, is the resigning of CSteven Stamkos. But the question was posed to our Raw Charge staffers about their views on what the Lightning might do this coming summer, so the question is : What kind of player do you want to see the Lightning pursue this off season?
Would you prefer to see the Bolts fill the slots from within? or would you prefer to see someone from the trade or free agent market fill the need(s)? And which of the FA players would you like to see the Bolts sign and/or resign? (besides Steven Stamkos, of course)
Leave us a comment, Lightning fans, what would you like to see the team do over the summer? Some thoughts of the Raw Charge staff and a poll for you, the readers, to have their say about which Lightning UFAs you would like the team to resign, coming up after the jump.
John Fontana - Staff
I can see some fans immediately suggesting they want a puglist or someone who is "not afraid to drop the gloves." That's the fans, though. I don't see that as something the Lightning need in order to improve their game.
In fact, it's hard for me to really gauge this... Especially since we'll be starting the playoffs next week. Before you even get to the question above, you're going to have to guess who the Lightning are going to lose in free agency. Then you have to gauge what the Lightning truly need to replace any loses.
Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, Randy Jones, Eric Brewer, M.A. Bergeron... Who do you let go? Who do you want back? Then address the roles that they are playing with the team right now and you start to gauge just what the Lightning might need in the 2011 off-season.
Personally, I'm not able to guess who would be a better fit on defense or fit into Guy Boucher's system properly... I can tell you from a fan perspective that I'd love nothing more than to see Brad Richards back in Tampa... But the cost is going to be astronomical, and the Bolts already have astronomical costs that will ultimately dictate who and what they can chase in the off-season.
Clark Brooks - Staff / Clark Brooks' Blog
There are two schools of thought as to what problems the Lightning have to address on their roster going forward: either goaltending & defense or defense & goaltending. I'd like to see the Lightning address those issues with unrestricted free agents on the right (young) side of 30. So the names on my wish list would be: Pitkanen and either Bryzgalov or Leclaire. In the process, I'd like to see them retain Gagne and Brewer if possible.
Matt Amos - Staff / Don't Trade Vinny
I would like to see the Lightning pick up a calm, cerebral defender. Offensively or defensively inclined, doesn't matter. And I'd prefer that defender have a background largely from the West. In my opinion, defensemen in the West, at least the past couple of seasons, tend to process things a little quicker, adjust to broken plays better, and anticipate goofy rebounds more responsibly.
"Now, DTV, Mattias Ohlund came from the West and everyone knows you want him to go."
Exactly! Seems he left before acquired such valuable traits. Send him back over for a while, let him fully develop.
Cassie McClellan - Staff
Goaltending will forever be a problem. Those teams with good goaltenders will hold on to them for dear life, while everyone else shuffles around the rest. Not every team out there can have a Martin Brodeur on it. So while finding someone to either backup or start ahead of Cedrick Desjardins should be important, most of the goalies available as free agents are either on the downside of their careers or backups at this point. Of course, a goalie can bloom into a star with a good team, but that can be hit or miss at the best of times.
Defense is their number one priority at this point - after the obvious priority of re-signing Steven Stamkos. Half of the players they have aren't able to execute Guy Boucher's system in the way he's intended it, I think. Eric Brewer and Mike Lundin are the best at it thus far. And while Marc-Andre Bergeron fits into that system well, he can be a liability on defense at times. And since defensemen can take a while to get the hang of things in the NHL, Victor Hedman's still not quite up to par - but he's about where he should be in his development. He is only 20 years old, after all. But he's done a good job, for the most part, in Boucher's system.
Overall, the team is pretty thin at defense on the depth chart, so promoting from within might not be an option. And those are other holes that need to be filled. That lack of depth - not just in Tampa, but also in Norfolk and with all positions - definitely needs to be addressed.
The free agents I'd definitely like to see them keep are Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, and Eric Brewer. Possibly Randy Jones and Bergeron - at least until the depth issue on defense can be addressed. Adam Hall wouldn't be a bad re-signing, either.
Dani Toth - Staff / Lightning Hockey Blog
I know it said to be specific, but I can't. GM Yzerman needs to fix our defence in a bad way. I've liked what I've seen of Brewer so far, so let's work on re-signing him but we still need a better core of defencemen. I'd like a shut-down type and also an offensive defenceman like a this year's Kevin Bieksa. I just want a better defensive unit, is this asking too much?
Nolan Whyte - Staff / Frozen Sheets Hockey
In a lot of ways, this Lightning team takes after its captain, Mister Lecavalier. It has a lot of heart, but it's also thin and gets injured a lot. People keep chattering about the blueline and goal, but I wouldn't mind seeing another top six NHL forward added for depth purposes. If Columbus can't keep Scottie Upshall, he would be a good addition. Eric Cole would be nice too, but there we have injury questions as well. I like Cole when he's healthy. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to drop any of the current top nine or ten. Hopefully Simon Gagne is willing to stick around for less money.
As for the back end, it's been a long time since Tampa has had a slick offensive defender. James Wisniewski would be expensive, but could move the puck out of the defensive zone. But I'd like to keep Eric Brewer as well, if he doesn't mind sticking at the same money or less.
In goal, I'd let Mike Smith walk, resign and promote RFA Cedric Desjardains, and retain Dwayne Roloson. I know he's getting older, but he's in fantastic shape. And listen up, all you people: Roloson is one of the last of his generation of goaltenders, and as such is not one of these interchangeable, every-save-the-same, positional robots that are now being cranked out by goaltending academies. He is an athlete, he's a reflex goalie, and he's probably the most entertaining to watch stopper in the league. For purely selfish reasons, we need to keep this guy. He gets the job done, and he is a lot of fun to watch.
Last week's Question of the Week: Evaluating Coach Boucher and staff and the job they have done in year one with the TBL.