Yzerman sticking to long-term plan for Bolts

Photo Courtesy David M/Flickr/CC

When Steve Yzerman took over as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he promised a slow but sure rebuild. After making a series of recent trades that have mainly yielded draft picks, it’s pretty clear Stevie Y is sticking to his long-term plan.

His first move sent third line centre Dominic Moore to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2012. He then followed up by sending veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of picks in 2013.

Yzerman had another busy day on February 21, making a minor league deal in addition to sending the revamped Steve Downie to Colorado in a three-way deal with Detroit, who took Kyle Quincy from the Avs and gave Tampa a 2012 first round pick and minor leaguer Sebastien Piche.

Meanwhile, the Bolts currently sit in the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference – five points out of a playoff spot with a 27-26-6 record. After an impressive campaign in 2010-11, Tampa faithful may be beginning to worry, but with Yzerman behind the wheel, it shouldn’t take long to turn those picks into a promising future for the Bolts.

With Tampa’s top three forwards still having no trouble producing, along with secondary scorers Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone, the area with the most need seems to clearly be the backend.

Although they were able to snag 21-year-old stay-at-home defender Victor Hedman second overall in 2009, they’ve still been without a quality offensive defenseman – the last mainstay could arguably be Dan Boyle, who was an integral piece on the Bolts’ Cup-winning team in 2003-04, but has been a San Jose Shark since 2008.

With Marc-Andre Bergeron playing a decent two-way game, in addition to Eric Brewer’s physical and experienced shutdown game, acquiring an offensive rearguard is essentially a must for the Lightning.

Goaltending is another area Yzerman will surely focus on, as 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, who, granted, is still playing a decent game between the pipes, is only getting older and will inevitably need replacing sooner than later. Now that Yzerman has a pair of first round picks to work with at the 2012 draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ends up being a goaltender.

On another note, amidst all the trade hoopla and despite the Tampa Bay Lightning’s dismal .500 record, the team is still managing to get the best out of its star players.

Led by Steven Stamkos, who is currently on pace for a 58-goal, 96-point season, Tampa’s top-three forwards boast some of the best point totals league-wide.

At age 36, assistant captain Martin St. Louis is showing no signs of slowing down, as his 18 goals and 52 points have him paced to record his eighth career 70-plus point season, while counterpart Vincent Lecavalier, 31, has nearly reached his totals from his highly criticized 54-point campaign in 2010-11, and should finish this season with roughly 70 points.

With that in mind, does Yzerman keep his top three forwards intact and do they have enough juice left in them to wait on a rebuild? One thing is for certain – Yzerman hasn’t ruled out making more deals before the trade deadline, and the previously rumored shopping of Lacavalier could potentially resurface if the price is right.

That said, Yzerman made it clear that he hasn’t written off the current season just yet, so it will be interesting to see what will happen (or will not happen) come deadline day.

– Jeff Blay, Executive Editor


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