Quick Strikes: Steve Yzerman is one of the best General Managers in the NHL

The numbers say Stevie Y is good at his job, Hedman might be the Bolts MVP this season, and the difficult RFA decisions that await the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bolts

Tampa Bay Lightning fans have known this for awhile, but it’s nice to see some data support the fact that Steve Yzerman is a phenomenal GM. He comes in second place on this analytics-based list. “Yzerman has supplemented top-two picks in Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman by finding undervalued free agents like Anton Stralman and by developing young stars such as Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson. Yzerman came into the summer of 2016 with a slate of expiring contracts (including Stamkos), and managed to lock in his entire core with under-market deals, while taking the time to navigate Expansion Draft and salary cap concerns over the 2017 trade deadline.” [Hockey Graphs]

FanPoster @DrClew32 wrote about getting to shadow Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns at a Tampa Bay Storm game. [Raw Charge]

...And another FanPoster, loganreid, wrote his best guesses for who the Bolts should protect in the expansion draft. Agree? Disagree? He went with 7 forwards, 3 defensemen... [Raw Charge]

Got a fanpost idea? Feel free to DM @RawCharge and we’ll slot you in!

A case for Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning MVP. “There is such a smoothness to his game that his best plays are often overlooked because he makes it look extremely easy. With his stride he tracks down forwards and knocks the puck away. Despite being the size of a small house he isn’t going to make a lot of highlight reel hits, preferring to use his positioning and long reach to disrupt passes and set up a quick transition.” [Raw Charge]

More updates on the puppy calendar!

“Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman will arguably face an even tougher set of decisions in 2017 than he did in 2016, a.k.a. The Year of the Stamkos. You'll notice that three of the league's best RFAs-in-waiting— Tyler Johnson, Ondrek Palat and Jonathan Drouin — wear blue and white. That Palat brings a defensive element to his game might make him harder to part with than Drouin or Johnson if/when Yzerman is forced to make a tough choice.” [Sportsnet]

Last but not least, our very own elseldo has won the Stanley Cup not once but twice in four seasons as GM of the Lightning in NHL16. He accomplished this impressive feat by making some savvy trades, including acquiring Sergei Bobrovksy and pairing Seth Jones with Victor Hedman. I asked him to share some of his sage advice. “Well, I went out there and tried to find the right group of guys. Ones that would get along in the dressing room, spend time outside the rink together. We want to be a family here in Tampa, and I think it's finally paying off. There's a lot you can do with draft picks and you can't be scared to trade away some top prospects or take back a bad contract to get the players you need. The waiver wire is your friend, and don't pay your backup more than 900k.” Hey Buffalo, I think I just found your top candidate.

The Prospects

Brett Howden talks about the Syracuse Crunch playoff run and his relationship with Brayden Point. “We played in Moose Jaw together, we sat beside each other in the [locker] room. We were really good buddies... He had a lot of good things to say. He talked to Stacy [Roest] a lot, the [Tampa Bay Lightning] player development guy about me. He’s obviously helped me a lot to get here.” [ESPN Syracuse]

Scouting the 2017 NHL draft: Juuso Valimaki. “Valimaki brings both the size and the offense that the Lightning have been looking for on the blue line. Since the departure of Anthony DeAngelo last summer, the Lightning have not had any great offensive-defenseman prospects.” [Raw Charge]

“Think of Anthony Cirelli as the next Justin Williams: in any pressure situation, the kid produces. Already a Memorial Cup hero with Oshawa in 2015, the talented Cirelli is making another run with Erie in the OHL, putting up nine points in his past four games. That earned him league player of the week honors and now his Otters have a shot at their first title since 2002.” [The Hockey News]

Cirelli, Erik Cernak, Taylor Raddysh, and the rest of the Erie Otters host the Mississauga Steelheads tonight at 7:00 PM for Game 1 of the OHL Championship.

The Worlds

With ten members of the Tampa Bay Lightning participating across four teams at the IIHF World Championship, we'll be keeping a close eye on Canada (Jon Cooper, Alex Killorn, and Brayden Point), Russia (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and prospect Nikita Gusev), Sweden (Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman), and Switzerland (Tanner Richard).

Through the help of a Swedish translator, we were able to get some great quotes from Anton Stralman on his transition to playing on the big ice. “Against Russia I was wondering ‘Where the hell am I supposed to be?’ There is so much ice I don’t know where to go.” [Raw Charge]

Team Russia continues to grace us with amazing pictures of our favorite players.

The Game

“Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have often been pitted against each other as the NHL’s two brightest stars for the past decade. But even on opposite teams in this Eastern Conference semifinal series, Ovechkin took no joy in hearing Crosby suffered a concussion on Monday night and is out for at least Game 4. ‘It’s hard to see a player go down, and it’s hard to see he get hurt,’ Ovechkin said. ‘He’s a player you don’t want that stuff to happen, so it’s sad. I hope he’s going to be fine and come back in the series.’” [Washington Post]

“Jeremy Jacobs wears two hats. He is, of course, the owner of the Boston Bruins, but he is also the Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors. And as such, his opinion on league issues matter. Yet again, today, Jacobs expressed little desire for the NHL to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea... ‘I think the four people that watch it don’t justify it.’” [Boston Herald]