Insider: Lightning Resign Mikkelson, Free Agent Madness

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the re-signing of defenseman Brendan Mikkelson on Wednesday. Here is the release from the team:

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Brendan Mikkelson to a one-year, one-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Mikkelson, 25, played in 41 games with the Lightning last season, collecting one goal and three points to go along with 13 penalty minutes. He scored his first career NHL goal on March 17 against the St. Louis Blues. Mikkelson recorded his first points (two assists) with the Lightning on February 16 versus the San Jose Sharks. He was acquired by Tampa Bay from the Calgary Flames on January 6 in exchange for Blair Jones.

The 6-foot-3, 206 pound, defenseman has played in 127 career NHL games with the Lightning, Flames and Anaheim Ducks, recording one goal, eight assists and 53 penalty minutes.  Mikkelson made his NHL debut as a member of the Ducks on January 2, 2009 against Philadelphia.

The Regina, Saskatchewan native also appeared in 33 games for the Abbotsford Heat last season, notching three goals and 15 points.  Mikkelson has played in 183 career AHL games with the Portland Pirates, Iowa Chops, Toronto Marlies and Abbotsford.  He has amassed 18 career AHL goals and 64 points.  Mikkelson helped Portland to the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, recording two goals and eight points.

The 24-year-old was claimed off waivers by Calgary from Anaheim on October 19, 2010.  He was drafted by the Ducks in the second round, 31st overall, of the 2005 NHL Draft.


Free Agency Looming

The free agent season is set to kick off on Sunday, but if history is any indication, don’t expect the Tampa Bay Lightning or General Manager Steve Yzerman to be big players in the early going. Yzerman has historically shown a tendency to be patient as the market opens up, and wait for the dust to settle on the stupid money that is thrown around in the early going. Once the first few days of free agency are in the books, that is when the smart General Managers get down to work.

So what are some of the Lightning’s biggest needs that still have to be addressed? First and foremost, the Lightning are most likely going to see what is out there in terms of a top four defenseman. And before you ask, no that does not mean they will be in on Ryan Suter. The ultimate price tag on that will probably be well outside of the Lightning budget.

With unrestricted free agency expected to not have a lot of available help, don’t be surprised if the Lightning also look at the trade market to address any needs they may have.

Stay with all weekend long as the NHL heads into free agent madness.