February 21, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman talks about roster moves before a game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE
In the days since I posted about the options that Steve Yzerman has for the goaltending position next season, a small amount of information has driven a large amount of speculation. Steve Yzerman gave an interview with radio station WDAE on Thursday in which he talked about what he's looking for in net, and this set off a lot of speculation and talk across the interwebz.
Unsurprisingly, it seems that the player Yzerman is looking for is the same player that everyone else wants: an elite goalie, a future Hall of Famer, young but with some experience, whom the club can count on for years to come. "A twenty-year old [version] of Martin Brodeur," in Yzerman's words. [i.e., not Roberto Luongo. Er. maybe.]
via Damian Cristodero from Lightning Strikes
The Lightning, leading up to free agency, will look to trade for a No. 1 goaltender, general manager Steve Yzerman said.
"My preference," Yzerman said Thursday night, "is to go with a little bit younger guy that maybe has a little less experience that can step up and play well for us now."
That player--a young, moderately experienced, future elite goalie who can hit the ground running-- sounds a lot like Cory Schneider.
Schneider, however, isn't available. We should be aware that the market is going to dictate much of Yzerman's decision. Compromise will almost certainly be necessary, and Yzerman is aware of that. His preferences are to trade for his future Hall of Famer, and if that doesn't work out, wait for free agency. And he seemed to be open to the option of signing a veteran to partner with Mathieu Garon for a year. All pretty much what you'd expect.
We also need to be aware, however, that these statements don't get made without a reason.
There is an element of gamesmanship in interviews like these. That's not to say that Yzerman is being deceitful, only that his public statements are not made thoughtlessly. He knows what kind of information he wants out there about his situation. He knows he has to balance public speculation with private conversations. We'd be naive, however, to assume that the fans are the only consumers of this information about his position,
What Yzerman essentially told us is that he wants something someone isn't giving him and that he isn't sold on what is available. He does strengthen his position in negotiations by saying publicly that he has needs that his negotiating partner(s) cannot or will not meet. It sounds very much like a statement that he is willing to walk away if what's on offer doesn't get better.
It doesn't follow that Yzerman is only talking to the Canucks here, though. In terms of the ideal Yzerman set forth, there are three (possibly four) netminders who could be involved: Schneider, Jonathan Bernier, Tuukka Rask, and Anders Lindback. They each have a different mix of availability and credentials. I discount Rask and Schneider's availability altogether, and I doubt that serious negotiations for Lindback would require a public statement of willingness to walk away. But Bernier could still be in play.
These public statements also have implications for the future of Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus. At no time did Yzerman address the depth in the system. It could be that that was a function of what questions were asked, but he is definitely looking outside the system for his long-term solution. While he hasn't apparently ruled out relying on either of these players, he did not take this opportunity to express confidence in their ability to take the club where it needs to go in the next year or two. That silence says a little something about where his thinking is on the two AHLers.
It seems to me that a public announcement of negotiating position like this has two purposes. One is to alert the fans that while the team is working on achieving a long-term solution in net, that solution may not be forthcoming this summer. The other is to reinforce positions stated in private conversations. By taking Lightning fans' expectations out of the negotiating room. he is opening a door that he can use to exit negotiations that don't meet his needs. And really, isn't that what we want, even if it means another period of no more than journeyman goaltending?