Oh, how fondly we all remember the summer of 2008... sure, the Tampa Bay Lightning had just stumbled to a last place finish and Cup-winning coach John Tortorella was making his way out the door, but #SeenStamkos was a thing, and wacky new owners with fashionable hairstyles were coming to Tampa Bay to make everything just super. Hooray! Welcome Oren and Len! OK Hockey is here to save the day!
You may remember, as they started their crazy-guy attempt to get every NHL forward, they traded for the negotiating rights to Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts, who had just impressed us all with their gutsy playoff performances for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had just lost in the Stanley Cup Final. Wow! These cray-cray new owners are going for it!
Of course, every move wasn't golden. They decided if you had enough forwards you didn't need blueliners, and they decided Barry Melrose could still coach in this league. Sure, they were OMG awful, but what would you expect from a horror movie producer and a former NHL grinder who at that point in his life spent his time threatening to bulldoze sacred burial grounds to build golf courses? You expect... horror. The... horror...
They fell apart, and the Lightning were taken away from them and given to someone who isn't nuts. And yes, Oren and Len were the worst NHL owners since His Dark Majesty Satan finally collected Toronto's Harold Ballard. But for just a little while, in that wacky summer of 2008, they let us all watch someone act out the ultimate fan fantasy. After all, haven't you ever imagined what you would do if you were suddenly an NHL owner? What kind of power-moves would you make?
And so I ask the writers of Raw Charge and the broader Bolt-o-Sphere: If you were a crazy megalomaniac who owned the Lightning, who would you want to poach for the Bolts? Would you grab whoever is currently kicking bum in the playoffs? Abduct a secret crush? Don't worry about realistic trades. You're crazy! Tell us your fantasy, you nut!
Clark Brooks, Raw Charge contributor:
Hmm, I'm a crazy megalomaniac, specifically patterned after a certain two crazy megalomaniacs...
In that case, I will have paid very close attention to how positively my existing fan base reacted to all the nostalgia during the various 20th anniversary celebrations. That means I have two names on my list: Boyle and Richards.
However, since I am a crazy megalomaniac, the last thing I'm going to do is make an attempt to actually appease my fan base, so I'm not talking about Dan and Brad; I'm talking about the Rangers' Brian Boyle and Mike Richards of the Kings. Ha ha! Had you there for a minute, didn't I, Lightning fans? I'm in your heads now! Good players, yes, but I need forwards like I need more hair products, which I am going out to shop for now with the money I made from selling our trophy cases and Dave Mishkin on Craigslist. Also, I'm going after Chris Gratton and Vaclav Prospal because I miss those guys and they're overdue for yet another return to Tampa Bay.
Now I am bored and this is something my coach is just going to have to figure out.
Worship me as a god! (And don't forget to check out "Saw 16; Electric Boogaloo" being released direct to VHS sooner than any of us would have ever reasonably expected).
Clark again, because he really got into this:
Taylor Pyatt, because we've never had a pair of brothers on the Lightning before (well, we've had brothers but not brothers). I'm sure that's something that Phil and Tony Esposito could appreciate and it's worked out pretty well in Vancouver with the Sedin twins. Plus, any collector of sports memorabilia knows that having a complete set of something is worth more. Wait...there's a third brother who never played in the NHL? Eh, forget it.
John Fontana, managing editor of Raw Charge:
Impulsive signings by a would-be megalomaniac playing fantasy hockey with a professional sports team? How could that go wrong?
I am so trading for the rights to Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr after the season so I can get first crack at signing both the guys! What? Defense is the issue with the Lightning and not forward depth?! Come on! These guys are playing in the NHL playoffs for teams sporting black and one-shade-or-another of yellow! And they've been contributing to teams (...and gambling establishments, in Jagr's case) for years! Years! You want that kind of leadership in the room! Sure, we might have to cut loose some other contracts like that Saint Louis guy or whatever his name is, but hey! Can't make an omelet without ordering an omelet from room service, right?!
And then there's the defense and.. Well, screw the defense! Lets go out and get Tim Thomas! Sure, he's not playing in the playoffs, and he has ruined his reputation by going over-the-top political... But hell, this is supposed to be an over-the-top set of roster moves inspired by the playoffs! Tim Thomas is not in the playoffs! Having him on our team would get him and the (megalomaniacally led) Tampa Bay Lightning back to the playoffs! Bank on it! Nothing could go wrong! Nothing!
Now, please excuse me while I wash the ignorance and arrogance away with a stiff drink and a lament for the 2008 Lightning offseason, where it all started to go so, so wrong...
Patti McDonald, Raw Charge contributor:
I am sitting at my megalomaniac desk twirling my megalomaniac thumbs. I am not like Oren and Len though. I am one of those rare megalomaniacs who makes rational decisions once and awhile.
Saying that, I would wave my GM wand and poach a pair of defensemen for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I am basing this purely on need and because there are no rules or stipulations… First, I would sign Ottawa defencemen Erik Karlsson. He’s been in the NHL for four years, won the Norris Tropy last season, all while skating like a defensemen who has been in this league three times as long. He isn’t afraid of making things physical and he plays a simple game, without complicating his play. Karlsson missed 10 weeks of hockey and is playing well for someone returning from an Achilles injury. The spry, slick defensemen still has to step up his play but remember, he hadn’t played in 10 weeks before returning. He doesn’t have to score to be a good player either. His hockey sense is impressive for a second year player and he will only improve.
Still keeping my thoughts focused on the blueline, I’d pick up Bruins defencemen Torey Krug. I know I can pick anyone else, maybe even a high scoring forward. However, like I said, this is based on need and I am going with the younger guys here. He basically came out of nowhere as an emergency call-up for Boston when both defencemen Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenburg got a bite from the injury bug. Krug has played two games in the NHL but he’ll be signed by the team in no time.
But, the smartest decision would to go with someone who has won a Stanley Cup.
While I would love to see the Lightning sign a pair of young defensemen, the team desperately needs a top four blueliner and for me that player is Zdeno Chara. (no rules right?) I know Chara has stung Tampa Bay for some time now but I think we would all agree that if there were no stipulations, Chara would be one of the best defensemen to acquire. The Lightning need a defensemen with Chara’s size. If they had access to this type of player, a playoff appearance would be guaranteed next season.
Clare Austin, Raw Charge contributor:
Since we're throwing logic out the window, I'm saying Crosby, Datsyuk, Lundqvist, and Ryan S--...Ryan Sut--...Ry--...He Who Shall Not Be Named. And hell, throw Chara in there as well. Why not? This is a world without logic, right? Or salary caps. Or the need to balance rosters. In fact, Cory "#DeathTaxes" Conacher should come home where he belongs and is loved. Stupid Senators fans....
Kyle Alexander from Lightning 101:
Eschewing the most obvious answers -- players all 30 teams would want -- (Crosby, Datsyuk, Toews etc.) if I'm looking at the talent left in the playoffs and cherrypicking players I want to add to the Lightning and I base it on need, I'm looking at high scoring (preferably playmaking) wingers that can slot into the top-6 and defenseman that can move the puck and eat big minutes. Patrick Kane fits the first bill nicely, and the Bolts might get a chance to draft a player in his mold this offseason if they don't get cute and go Russian in the first round again. As for the second category, while I'm on the record as a huge believer in the two-way talent of Victor Hedman, the Bolts still lack an elite puck mover on the blue line, and they have since they got Matt Carle the first time. Adding a (fully healthy) Erik Karlsson or Kris Letang to this squad (especially the power play) makes an already potent offense even more lethal and eases the load on the other defenders that get caught out of position from time to time. Both guys are also underrated defenders -- the inability to make quick decisions in your own end to start breakouts and turn defense into offense has been an Achilles heel for the Bolts the past few years.
Justin Godfrey, The Hopeful Chase:
Scrolling the list of free agents that are still playing, and believing that the Lightning could always use more grit, I think they should definately drop a 4-year $12 million contract on Raffi Tor........ Man, I can't even type that out. Seriously, of all of the soon to be free agents still skating the only one that might be a good fit would be Pascal Dupris. Even at 34, he's showing that he's a solid two-way forward that can put 20 pucks in the next and not embarress himself in the defensive zone. Not a bad example for the young kids next season.
For nostalgia's sake, if they sign Roman Hamrlik to a one-year deal I wouldn't be mad. Heck he'd work out better than Brian Rolston did for the Bolts.
Nice try, folks. The correct answer is "Whoever Vincent Lecavalier wants me to acquire." But what about you people? Share your opinions in the comment section. NOW!
Nolan Whyte is a raggedy hobo squatting at Raw Charge (they pay him with old pizza boxes). He became a hobo after failing to get rich blogging about hockey at Frozen Sheets Hockey and posting fiction at End City. Give him your spare change on twitter at @nolanwhyte.