Lightning Round: Tampa Bay makes their free agent signings official

Luke Schenn and Pat Maroon are officially back with the team

The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t been overly active in free agency so far this offseason. Hamstrung by a lack of cap space and the impending raises due to the success of some of their restricted free agents they just haven’t had the room (or the need) to make a lot of big splashy signings. The team did re-sign a couple of their pending unrestricted free agents in Luke Schenn and Patrick Maroon. On Thursday, the signings were officially announced by the team. So, the truculence department remains fully staffed.

The signings of Schenn ($800,000 for one year) and Maroon ($900,000 per year for two years) brings the off-season salary total to $82,537,764 (including the estimated value of the qualifying offers sent to the RFAs). In the offseason, teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap by 10% ($89,650,000) so they are cap compliant as of right now. From a certain point of view it also means they have over $7,000,000 to sign their remaining five RFAs (Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, Alex Volkov, Mathieu Joseph, and Erik Cernak).

Unfortunately, that $89 million cap figure is a bit of an illusion. It’s temporary. It’s ephemeral. It lacks in permanence.  It’s a construct that exists only to buy time for general managers to work their fiscal magic. By the time the season starts (presumably some time in February) the Lightning need to be back under the actual hard cap of $81,500,000.

So, in essence Julien BriseBois remains in the same uncomfortable position he has been in since the draft. Why, make the signings now? It could just be convenience. Signing off on the paperwork to get it out of the way. However, an optimist might think that it’s a sign that another deal is in the works. Maybe he’s found a taker for Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn. Or maybe they’ve come to terms with Cirelli or Sergachev.

Who knows what, if anything, will happen in the next couple of days. Teams are months away from even having to think about training camps. Maybe things will open up once there is an actual planned start date to the season. Once an organization knows how long the season will be, they can determine if Johnson or Killorn is worth it (especially if the salaries are prorated in any way).

If things were progressing normally, Gabriel Fortier would probably be suiting up for the Syracuse Crunch. Instead, the forward returned to lead the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. On Thursday night, the team captain had a hat tick as the Wildcats beat the Halifax Moosheads, 4-3. Fortier now has 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games.

The name Angelo Bumbacco probably isn’t familiar to many Lightning fans. He was one of first members of the organization that Phil Esposito hired back when the team first formed and then he spent 20 years in the organization. According to Esposito’s biography it was Bumbacco who suggested Terry Crisp as the possible first head coach for the team. Bumbacco, who also founded the Soo Greyhounds, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 88. []

This is what Bumbacco had to say about the Lightning drafting a young kid from Quebec back in 1998. [St. Petersburg Times]

“Everyone called [Joe] Thornton “The Next One’ because he was the best player since (Eric) Lindros,” Lightning scout Angelo Bumbacco said. “I’ll tell you what, the guy we draft should be called “The Next One’ because he is the best player since Lindros.”

Team Canada released the names of the players invited to their selection camp for the upcoming World Junior tournament that will take place in Edmonton starting on Christmas Day. To the surprise of some in these parts, recent Lightning draft pick Gage Concalves was named to the roster. The late second round pick had a strong season with the Everett Silvertips in 2019-20 posting 33 goals and 71 points. He’ll have a tough road ahead of him to make the final roster as Team Canada has one of the strongest groups of forwards in the tournament (and that’s without overall top pick Alexis Lafrenierre). [Team Canada]

A couple of Lightning Stanley Cup winners took a picture together (Nikolai Khabibulin is the one on the left).

Around the league

A few days after the Arizona Coyotes declared that the best way to help Mitchell Miller redeem his past was by keeping him in the organization, they promptly renounced their rights to him. It was really the only thing they could do at this point. [Five for Howling]

It should not require a large public backlash to force the team to stand up for the values they have been preaching to us. And while the team’s management may feel that the decision to renounce Miller’s rights is the morally correct one, it was done for public relations reasons.

The hockey world lost another inspirational figure. A few days after Joey Moss lost his life, Travis Roy passed away. In 1995, just 11 seconds into his first shift with Boston University, Roy slid into the boards headfirst and fractured his vertebrae. Since then Roy, a quadriplegic since the accident, was a leading voice for spinal cord injury survivors. His foundation, started in 1997, has raised more than $9 million to help fund research and provide equipment for those needing it.  He was just 45. [Boston University]

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” BU Athletics said in a statement. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis’ work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country.”

Because they are so good at what they do. Because they make a lot of money. Because they are in the top single digit percentage of fitness. There are a lot of reasons why we sometimes forget that hockey players can suffer from the same mental health issues that affect all of us. Recently Colin Wilson opened up about his struggles of living with OCD while competing at the highest level of hockey. [The Players Tribune]

A look at the career of Cammi Granato, U.S. Olympian, Hockey Hall of Famer, and the first female scout in the history of the NHL. [The Cowl]

Currently, Granato is scouting the professional players in the NHL, specifically in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. “The position itself was super natural to me,” she said. “I love analyzing the game and that has come from being in a family of coaches and brothers who love watching game tape.” She added that “sitting up in the press box with ten other guys is not something I’m not used to.”

When the NHL season was disrupted due to the suspension of all sports, there was some talk that the league may take the opportunity to alter their season. Instead of starting in the fall and getting lost in the noise of the NFL, NBA, and college football, why not shift its season to later in the year and enjoy less competition for viewers. The NHL doesn’t want to do that. According to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, the goal of the league is to get back onto the schedule they are used to (and also try and cram an 82-game schedule into a shortened time frame). [Yahoo Sports]

“The goal is, and the hope is, we could start the 2021-22 season in our normal time slot. So that certainly would tell you that we would like to be done [next season] far earlier than we were able to award a Stanley Cup this year at the end of September. We don’t want to go too far into the summer if we can avoid it.”

The Seattle Kraken became the first NHL club to make the “Get Uncomfortable” pledge - an anti-racism campaign created by the Black Girl Hockey Club. [Seattle Kraken]

“Like every hockey fan, it’s exciting to see the teamwork and team mentality needed to win a Stanley Cup,” Renee Hess, founder of the Black Girl Hockey Club, said in Seattle’s press release. “It’s one big reason I love this game — players on the same wavelength through all the rounds of the playoffs. What we want to do with the Get Uncomfortable Campaign is unravel that part of the hockey culture that makes team more important than each individual deserving to be treated with respect and equality.”