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Tampa Bay Lightning submits qualifying offers to five RFAs

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Ahead of the deadline to do so on Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning have submitted qualifying offers to restricted free agents Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrej Sustr, Luke Witkowski, Phil Paradis, and Carter Ashton -- but not Mark Barberio.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agents Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrej Sustr, and Luke Witkowski ahead of Monday's deadline to do so.

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times:

Monday is the deadline to submit qualifying offers. (Read up on restricted free agency here.) Basically, the qualifying offer is a minimum offer a team must make per the CBA to keep negotiating rights with a player; any unqualified RFA on July 1 becomes a UFA instead. A player can accept the qualifying offer, or continue to negotiate for a longer/better deal. Players may also sign offer sheets with other clubs, but qualifying them gives the team that holds their rights the opportunity to match the offer.

Reading between the lines here, this seems to indicate what we have long suspected regarding Mark Barberio's future with the Lightning; Namestnikov, Sustr, and even Witkowski are in the future plans. Barberio appears not to be.

A 6th round pick in 2008, Barberio has played 5 seasons with the Lightning (3 in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals and Syracuse Crunch and two more with the Bolts) and crossed the 100 NHL games played threshold this season before getting assigned to permanent popcorn duty in the press box during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. He appeared in just one playoff game and was passed on the depth chart by Nikita Nesterov.

The Lightning could still qualify Barberio and attempt to trade him, or simply let his RFA status lapse so he can sign with anyone on July 1. In either case, him being on the opening night roster for the 2015-16 season seems incredibly unlikely at this point.

UPDATE

The Lightning have also qualified AHL forwards Phil Paradis and Carter Ashton, retaining their rights. They'll bolster scoring depth for the Syracuse Crunch in the 2015-16 season.

In addition to Mark Barberio, Cody Kunyk, Dalton Smith, Danick Gauthier, and Dan Milan also did not receive qualifying offers, so they too will be come UFAs.