The Tampa Bay Lightning can score goals. That is known throughout the entire National Hockey League. Not many teams want to get into a track meet with the 2014-2015 Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are currently first in the NHL in goals per game with a total of 3.25 per night. This is a result of their balanced attack and contributions from each line. The team should be confident in what they have up front for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a few months. What the team needs to do however is upgrade the defense. The team is currently 14th in goals against in the NHL. A bright spot for the team has been the rise of their penalty killing all the way up to 7th in the league. Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman is not one to trade away the future for a rental player, however I am sure he is going to try to add a piece on defense before the upcoming trade deadline. Here are 3 defenseman that could be key additions to the Tampa Bay Lightning and are salary-cap friendly additions.
Jeff Petry is a 27 year old defenseman currently playing for the Edmonton Oilers. The 6’3 200 lb Ann Arbor Michigan product would add NHL experience to the bottom pairing of the team and would compete hard in a new system that would reenergize his game. Petry has 4 goals, 11 assists, and 15 points this season from the Edmonton blueline. With a struggling defense in Edmonton, one would think that they would like to keep Petry an Edmonton Oiler. If the team anticipates Petry could potentially walk after this season though, it might be in the best interest to move him elsewhere. It might take a 2nd-3rd round pick and a depth forward to acquire the right handed defenseman. Petry is a good skater that possesses a nice shot from the point and competes hard.
With the Arizona Coyotes about to enter a rebuild, Michalek could be traded before the upcoming trade deadline. The 32-year-old Czech is top 10 in the league in block shots and could be a nice fit with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While Michalek only has played in 20 playoff games during his career, he has played in 696 games for the Wild, Penguins, and Coyotes. With the Lightning playing two rookies on defense currently, they might consider added a player with Michalek’s defensive ability, skating ability, and experience in the league. The team has a few offensive defenseman and could use a guy that could play in a shut-down defensive role for the playoffs.
Another Czech defenseman completes the list. The 28-year-old Polak could be a nice quiet addition for the Lightning that would come at a cheaper price than Petry or Michalek. Polak is a descent defenseman that does not try to do too much during a game. He is a right-handed shot and would be a good 6th defenseman for the Lightning. A change of scenery could jump start his game as well, especially going to a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has 5 goals and 4 assists this season in 51 games from the Leafs blueline and has played over 20 minutes per game. The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be entering a rebuild, having moved Cody Franson, Mike Sanotorelli, Daniel Winnik, and David Clarkson already.
Tampa Bay is Getting Ready for Playoff Push
The Lightning are getting ready for a battle. A battle with the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings for the Atlantic Division title. The two teams that do not win the division will be facing each other in a grind of a 1st round playoff series. It appeared early in the year that Tampa Bay was the team to beat not only in the division, but in the entire conference. Right now the Montreal Canadiens are 3 points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning with 2 games in hand. The Lightning have to start winning and reclaim 1st place in the Atlantic Division, a position they were in for the majority of this season. Fans will see what GM Steve Yzerman has up his sleeve at this year’s trade deadline in a few days. Fans should not expect a captain-for-captain blockbuster that we saw last year, but a quiet addition that will help the team get points now and compete for a deeper run in the playoffs.
I am a 2015 graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey. I have coached ice hockey at the high school level for two seasons here in NJ. I will be covering the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward for The Hockey Writers.