The Tampa Bay Lightning has a great deal of salary cap while slowly resigning their restricted free agents with Alex Killorn being the latest to enjoy a new contract. There has been some speculation that general manager Steve Yzerman will make a big play at the draft or in free agency. But if anyone is paying attention to his quotes, Yzerman isn’t interested in nostalgia or a retread like Brad Richards, he seems to be focusing all of his time on one free agent—Ryan Callahan.
The former New York Rangers’ and current Bolts’ forward made a big impression with Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper and Yzerman is still in talks to have Callahan resigned before the start of free agency.
Callahan made an impact since coming over in the deal that sent former fan favorite and face of the franchise Martin St. Louis to the Rangers in exchange for Callahan, a first rounder and a conditional second rounder, which became a first rounder. Not only did Yzerman get Callahan who scored six goals, 5 assists and 11 points he also got a good number of draft picks.
However, there may be a chance for Yzerman to have his cake and eat it too, to use an old phrase, as Callahan’s agent and Yzerman are still negotiating.
There are probably going to be more free agents available at the start of free agency, which Yzerman will target, expect them to be of the defensive position variety. For now now, he has made it clear that he is focusing on Callahan alone in terms of adding a free agent his forward corps. He already has many pieces that he is comfortable with going into the 2014-2015 season such as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and now Alex Killorn as well.
For those thinking that the gang is getting back together from 2004, it isn’t happening. Yzerman isn’t going to sign Brad Richards and probably won’t trade for Jason Spezza, as it doesn’t fit the Bolts’ needs. He has a plan and it doesn’t involve adding more center man to his abundant supply, especially aging centers who are not getting younger. Fans may want to see Richards “come home” but it’s not in the cards and Richards agent said as much.
The only question in all of this is whether Yzerman, who has looked brilliant with all three contracts of Johnson, Palat and Killorn, is what numbers is Yzerman working with for Callahan? If Yzerman breaks the bank on Callahan with a large cap hit and long term, well it will defeat the purpose of Yzerman’s plan so far. That plan being draft and develop players who will take spots and help having a perennial playoff contender.
Callahan is a good player and a great addition to any team and the Bolts will be a better team no question about that. That’s why Yzerman wants to add him back into the fold. It’s why when talking about the Lightning and free agency only one name is the focal point of Steve Yzerman right now and that’s Ryan Callahan.