Quick Strikes: Erik Karlsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning is a real possibility

Three teams have been named in the running for his acquisition, and we are one of them!

The Bolts

The Matt Carle era in Tampa Bay was...an experience. Let’s look back at his time with the Lightning on the anniversary of his first acquisition. And for the record, his six-year contract would’ve expired on Sunday if he wasn’t bought out. [Raw Charge]

Carle’s career in Tampa was mixed. His first stint only lasted twelve games before being traded to the Flyers for a third-round pick. His second stint had some highs and lows. His best season in Tampa was 2014-2015, but by the following season, his skills had deteriorated rapidly, leading to the buyout. He would ultimately retire in November of 2016 after being released by Nashville.

The Tampa Bay Lightning went to the conference finals last year. There is not much Steve Yzerman could do to the roster without some severe tinkering. Unless that tinkering yields a Karlsson or Tavares, there’s not really much point messing with a team that lost to the Cup Champs. [Tampa Bay Times]

And if that’s the case, then the rest of the summer could be pretty quiet in these parts. Other than replacing veteran fourth-liner Chris Kunitz and adding a little low-cost depth, the Lightning isn’t going to do much else. Don’t expect any big splashes.

Is that okay? Will that be enough? Can the Lightning win the Cup with this team?

A Karlsson trade appears to be imminent. There are many ways it can go; with or without Bobby Ryan, a contract extension, money going back or not, three teams. The list goes on and on.

Not to mention Toronto changing the landscape in the Atlantic with the Tavares signing puts pressure on Yzerman to join in on the arms race.

[The Athletic]

And Yzerman, having missed out on the big fish free agent in John Tavares (who went to the Maple Leafs), has given Karlsson another crack.

“(Yzerman) knows he has a window, and he’s not going to like that Toronto got Tavares,” an Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “It’s important for him to get ahead of Toronto. He’ll be in (Karlsson talks) with both feet.

Still not sure what Dallas is doing.

The Prospects

Jackson Leppard went undrafted for the first time last June. The Lightning invited him to development camp to potentially show the organization’s brass what he’s got. The WHLer is hopeful he gets an NHL or AHL contract in the next few years. His tryout even earned him an invitation to prospect camp in September. [Pique News Magazine]

“That’s my goal right now,” he said. “I’ll show what I have and play my best, whether it’s in main camp or prospect camp, with the chance to get a contract. It’s something to work for.”

While Leppard was thrilled to get the opportunity with any team, it was gratifying that it was the Lightning that had taken interest, as Tampa is a perennial contender, having advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in three of the past four seasons.

Matthew Peca is now with the Montreal Canadiens, who are so bad he might find himself in their top-six by 2019. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

Barring any further acquisitions, it’s unlikely Jonathan Drouin is moved to the wing. He’ll take up one of the top-six slots, and is joined at centre ice by Tomas Plekanec, Phillip Danault, and Jacob de la Rose — that is, assuming the latter two are brought back after being tendered qualifying offers.

Love that center core.

The Game

Kyle Dubas was asked whether he was going to be able to keep his young core together. As Lightning fans, we saw our organization successfully do such a thing, but they’re a little slower up north. Anyway, Dubas replied with a simple “We can, and we will.”

And the Hockey World (in Canada) exploded. [Sportsnet]

“We’ll be very patient,” he continued. “I wouldn’t expect anything imminent — at least, I don’t think that today as I speak with you guys — on any of the three, but we’ll just start to work towards them and all three of them will be a big part of it as we move ahead.”

Other than that bit of news, most of the NHL took the day off. Happy belated Independence Day!