His name was one of the most popular ones among Tampa Bay Lightning fans during the past offseason. In just about every “How do the Lightning get under the salary cap” discussion that was had on the internet, Tyler Johnson was part of the solution. Yet here we are, seven days away from opening night, and he’s still part of the roster. He survived the trade talks (apparently at some point at least three teams were interested), waivers, and numerous rumors.
So what happens now with the 8-year veteran? Well, he plays hockey for the Lightning. With Nikita Kucherov on the shelf for the regular season the Lightning are going to need all of the offensive help they can get. If Johnson can rebound from a 14-goal, 31-point season it would be a tremendous help for the club.
It was just two seasons ago that Johnson had 29 goals (his fourth season with 20+ goals). Now it’s doubtful he’ll get back to that plateau (his 17.8% shooting percentage was four points higher than his career mark) but if he can get back to the 20 goal/40 point level that’s a nice bump for the offense.
Even with his depressed offensive numbers Johnson still posted positive possession rates. He had a 53.22 CF% and a 65.96 GF% at even strength (all numbers adjusted for venue and score). He may not have been scoring, but he wasn’t a drain on the offense. On the Lightning those numbers put him in the middle of the pack, but that’s a pretty high bar to top.
During the first media call, Coach Jon Cooper was asked about what he expected out of Johnson this season. The coach was pretty blunt that he expected the forward to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Finding motivation after winning a Stanley Cup can be difficult and if having every team in the league pass on him gives Johnson a little extra incentive this season, so be it.
For his part, Johnson indicates that he’s ready to move on from the offseason drama. He likes playing in Tampa, he likes playing for Cooper and his teammates appreciate the effort he puts in on the ice. Nobody likes the financial part of the sport, but he seems to understand its business and he’s looking forward to being back on the ice.
While two days into practice is certainly way too early to read into what Coach Cooper is going to do on opening night, the fact that Johnson was in the slot on the first power play unit (with Brayden Point in Kucherov’s role) shows that Coach Cooper isn’t going to bury him in the line-up. A spot on the power play and a role as a second-line winger could boost his ice time back up to where it was a few seasons ago and lead to a bump in his production.
Tracey filled us all in with the latest goings-on in Orlando. Who doesn’t love a goalie fight? [Raw Charge]
Forty seconds later, an incident broke out by the player benches after Winiecki retaliated against Orlando forward Tad Kozun after a hit along the boards. Just as that was broken up, Neuber went after Windsor and the Solar Bears goaltender was glad to oblige. Both combatants were shown their respective exits for continuing the altercation, forcing Orlando to put Lackey in.
Lets check up on a couple of players that are no longer in the organization. [The Ottawa Sun]
General manager Pierre Dorion wanted to bolster the roster and give coach D.J. Smith options when he acquired the 35-year-old [Braydon] Coburn and 27-year-old [Cedric] Paquette from the Lightning last Sunday. Up front, Paquette will push for playing time in the middle while Coburn will play a big role working with the players on the back end.
One of the players that is still here is looking to get his name on the Stanley Cup again. With open spots on the roster, Mathieu Joseph has a chance to improve upon his play last season. [Tampa Bay Times]
Joseph sees this season’s training camp as another opportunity to prove his worth. He spent the offseason in Tampa trying to get ready for the season, working with strength and conditioning coach Mark Lambert and teammates who decided to stay in the area.
The NHL is looking to add revenue any way they can this year. One solution - sponsored names for the divisions. If it helps them pay some bills, that’s cool, but don’t expect us to ever refer to it as the “Discover Central Division”.
New York Islanders fans are patiently waiting for the club to agree to a new deal with a player named “Matt”. On Tuesday they did just that. Sadly, it was a four-year deal for Matt Martin and not Mathew Barzal. [AM NY]
“He’s a great friend and I was really happy to see that they locked him down for 4 years,” Islanders forward Jordan Eberle said. “He’s a guy for our team who doesn’t get as much notoriety as other guys do, but he brings every night the energy, the passion.”
Congratulations to Theresa Feaster for being the first female coach to win a gold medal at the World Junior Championship.