We’d heard all about how Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon was listening intently for offers on the first overall pick at the 2014 Draft. What we didn’t know was who was in talks with him to move up.
According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, the team that made the most aggressive push to deal with the Panthers were their in-state rival the Tampa Bay Lightning.
LeBrun said both Philadelphia and Vancouver made strong pitches, but it was Steve Yzerman who made Tallon think the most about dealing. Tallon ultimately kept the pick and selected Aaron Ekblad. You have to think that’s who Yzerman was aiming to take as well.
While Lightning-Panthers doesn’t stand out as as big a rivalry as Rangers-Islanders or Bruins-Canadiens, they’re still rivals and are also divisional foes. You have to imagine Tallon wasn’t too keen on making a deal with a team he sees so often and competes in the same state.
Still, you have to wonder just what did Yzerman offer up for the selection.
While Martin St. Louis marches on with the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ryan Callahan are still trying to get a new contract worked out.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports Callahan and the Lightning are still talking about an extension but there’s nothing imminent regarding a signing. Callahan can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He was acquired from the Rangers in a blockbuster deal along with a first-round pick in the 2014 draft for St. Louis.
In 20 regular season games with Tampa Bay, Callahan had six goals and 11 points. In the Lightning’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, he was held without a point while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
Callahan is coming off a three-year contract that paid him nearly $13 million overall. It was reported during the season he was seeking a seven-year deal that would pay him $42 million from the Rangers. Even though he reportedly lowered his demands, the process led to him being traded out of New York.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has stated he would “love” to re-sign Callahan, but the lure of free agent money could make negotiations tricky.
Lightning forward Ryan Malone was arrested early Saturday morning for driving under the influence and cocaine possession in South Tampa.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times has a statement from Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.
“We are aware of the situation concerning Ryan Malone this morning,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “Ryan will not travel with the team to Washington today, but beyond that we cannot comment further at this time.”
Malone was held on $2,500 bond. The arrest report can be viewed here at the Hillsborough County site.
Malone, 34, is in his sixth season with the Lightning and 10th in the NHL. In 57 games this season, he has five goals and 10 assists and has been a fourth line player of late and, more recently, a healthy scratch for the past three games. He has one year left on his contract with the Lightning.
Update (11:43 a.m. ET): Here’s more from the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson:
Update (1:31 p.m. ET): NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement on Malone’s arrest:
“We are aware of the situation this morning involving Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone. Under the terms of the collectively bargained joint NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, Mr. Malone is subject to mandatory evaluation and, if deemed necessary by the Program Doctors, treatment pursuant to the terms of that Program. His future playing status, both in the near term and during the Playoffs, will be determined in accordance the terms of our SABH Program.”
One name to watch today is Martin St. Louis and it appears the New York Rangers are still interested.
Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports the Rangers have an offer in on St. Louis and says it’s up to GM Steve Yzerman and St. Louis if anything is going to happen there.
When talk arose originally about St. Louis wanting out of Tampa Bay, the Rangers were believed to be the main team interested in him and the feeling is mutual from the Lightning captain.
It’s hard to imagine the Lightning wanting to move a key player like St. Louis when they, like the Rangers, are in the middle of a playoff race in which both teams are threats to come out of the East, but here we are.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants fans to know that fighting isn’t going away any time soon.
Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke with the commissioner at the NHL Stadium Series game in Chicago and asked for his take on fighting in the league. Bettman stood up for fighting saying it’s not a major part of the game.
“It’s an overblown issue because it’s a small part of the game, and to the extent there are concussions it’s a small part of that,” Bettman said. “Fighting is something we’ll continue to focus on, but there hasn’t been a consensus from the hockey people — on the side of management — or the players to make a change. I’ve been told if the NHLPA did a poll that 98 percent of the players would say don’t change the rule.”
Fans who don’t like fighting will obviously not be happy with this take from the commissioner, but this is essentially what he’s said all along about having fighting in the NHL.
Some believe fighting keeps the league from becoming more of a mainstream sport while others say it’s such an established part of the game it can’t be removed.
Discussions about changing the punishment for fighting were brought up by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, but those talks are new. If change is going to come, it’ll take more people who think like Yzerman and hold positions of power to make it happen.