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Quick Strikes: 69 Days until the Tampa Bay Lightning Home Opener

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Really missing those sweet sweet Erik Karlsson rumours

NHL: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Adam Erne (73) and New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) fight to control the puck on the boards during the second period at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

In our first annual Summer Secret Santa Series, yours truly highlighted one (or three) of my favourite GeoFitz4 articles from the previous season. [Raw Charge]

I remember the day Geo stepped into the Raw Charge offices and threw down a 4000 word dissertation on the Lightning’s draft strategy and how it’s changed over the seven years under Yzerman. He hinted at something a few weeks prior, but it was never supposed to be something as intense as what was produced. Geo found a pattern and evolution in the types of players the Lightning drafted and he ran with it. It turned into one of the hallmark pieces of the season:

From Sudbury Wolves draft pick in 1981 to assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pat Verbeek has a really interesting career before he joined Steve Yzerman’s front office. [Sudbury Wolves, Mike Commito]

Verbeek grew up in the small, rural village of Wyoming, just ten miles away from Sarnia, and was able to play Junior-B in nearby Petrolia for the Jets. Getting selected by the Wolves was a huge opportunity for Verbeek, as it represented the start of his journey to the NHL. “I was excited, obviously, but I was nervous about the season and how I would perform. I was just hoping to have a good year so I could get drafted,” he reflected.

I hope no one disagrees that Nikita Kucherov and Ryan McDonagh are better players than Tom Wilson. Those two, along with three other great players in the NHL, all will make less money than Wilson next season. [BarDown]

It’s pretty crazy to think that Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg will come with a cap hit at just $4,250,000 for the next FOUR seasons. The guy finished a single point behind Caps blue-liner John Carlson for points by a defenceman with 67 while easily serving as Dallas’ best defenceman. One of the best bargains in the NHL?

… Yup.

Former Bolt Vladislav Namestnikov has a chance to be a key player for the rebuilding New York Rangers. [NHL dot com]

Asked for the hardest part about the end of last season, Namestnikov did not mention his adjustments or statistical slump. He said this: “Probably not making playoffs. We’re in a rebuild mode right now, so [we have] lots of young guys, but when the season ends that early, it’s kind of hard. But we have a good group of guys, and I think next year will be different.”

Yesterday, there were 70 days remaining before the Home Opener... Today? It’s a little bit nicer.

louis | 10.6.18 ⚡️

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The Game

The Rangers one-uped their Metro Division rivals, the Washington Capitals, when they signed their 24-year-old RFA to an even better six-year $31+ million contract. New York’s promising young defenseman Brady Skjei will be making $5.25 for the next six seasons. [Blueshirt Banter]

The Rangers are a rebuilding team and part of that means developing and locking up young talent and the Blueshirts took a big step in that direction by locking down what they hope to be a cornerstone of their defense for years to come. Next up on the RFA list is Kevin Hayes, and it’s going to be mighty interesting to to see how that contract plays out.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Capitals have won the last three Stanley Cups. While the New York Islanders and Rangers are falling behind, the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, and Carolina Hurricanes are all nipping at the top two’s heels. Who will be the King of the Metro? [Pensburgh]

Carolina Hurricanes: As usual, most of their off-season moves have been lauded. Adding Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan have been almost universally praised. #2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov could be an immediate skilled NHL player. But the team whose Achilles heel for the last decade is going with Petr Mrazek and Scott Darling? That could be the area that again keeps them from the playoffs.