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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay qualifies seven restricted free agents

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That’s almost all of them!

NHL: MAY 07 Stars at Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning crossed off another item on the offseason checklist as they extended contract offers to seven of their Restricted Free Agents. Alex Barre-Boulet, Ross Colton, Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Otto Somppi, Sean Day, and Cal Foote all received qualifying offers from the club. Starting today, other clubs have the ability to start chatting with the RFAs about possibly extending an offer sheet (always talked about, but never happens) and then on the 28th RFAs can start accepting the deals.

The seven players who were sent the QO’s were pretty much no-brainers. If there was a little more depth in the system on defense, Sean Day may not have received an offer, but since they are a little light on defense, it makes sense to at least keep him from leaving in free agency right away.

Five of the players do not have arbitration rights so it’s pretty much take the offer the Lightning put out there, hope some other team sends them an offer sheet, or sit out the start of the season. The two players that have arbitration rights are Barre-Boulet and Colton so they have a little bit more control of their situation, but not much. One interesting note is that if either of them elects to go to arbitration, that could trigger a second buyout period for the Lightning (the first one ends today). If Julien BriseBois can’t find a taker for some of his higher contracts, that second buyout session could come in hand.

For the most part the players should sign their deals at some point this summer. With the exception of Somppi and Day, the other players all have a legitimate shot at making the team and contributing. Foote should be the third pairing defenseman while Colton could be the third line center. Barre-Boulet, Raddysh, and Katchouk all could be in line to fill out the empty spots left by the departing forwards.

It’s not the sexiest part of the offseason, but it could be vital for the Lightning as they are going to need some of these lower-cost players to play some important minutes.

The two players in the organization that did not receive offers were Dominik Masin and Ryan Lohin. Masin spent last season in Europe and is unlikely to return to North America any time soon. Not qualifying Lohin was an interesting move as it looked like the young center was progressing as the season wore on. He split time between Orlando and Syracuse last season and ended up putting up 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) in 25 games for the Crunch.

It is possible that with the influx of new talent coming into the organization the Lightning brass might not see a spot for him on the roster so they want to make sure he has as much time as possible to find a new team. They also have the opportunity to sign him to a deal in regular free agency that isn’t tied to salary structure set up by the restricted free agency process.

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While it would hurt the Lightning’s depth if Schenn doesn’t re-sign, it’s nice to see him garnering multi-year interest from other teams. As for any getting excited about possible tampering charges (there is no negotiating period for outside teams prior to free agency this year), it’s possible that the Lightning allowed his agents to explore deals with other teams prior to the official start of free agency. They are notoriously tight-lipped about their dealings so it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t let the new leak out that they’re letting their pending UFAs explore other options.