From Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, reporting on the contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steven Stamkos:
Stamkos prefers to play center, which creates a top-six logjam with Valtteri Filppula and triplet Tyler Johnson. It sounds like the Lightning would prefer Stamkos to play on the wing to ease that issue. From what I’ve been told, the discussions were professional, but both organization and player remain searching for common ground.
This same issue came up during last year’s playoffs, when Stamkos was shifted to the wing “to free him up a little bit, and let him get out of the zone a little faster,” according to coach Jon Cooper.
The center position is generally considered a tougher position to play, given the additional responsibility in the defensive zone. Partly for that reason, it’s wingers that tend to make up the majority of the NHL’s goal-scoring leaders. Alex Ovechkin. Rick Nash. Phil Kessel. Vladimir Tarasenko. Max Pacioretty. Corey Perry. Jarome Iginla. All wingers.
While nobody’s saying that this is an issue that will keep Stamkos from re-signing with the Lightning, it’s one to keep in mind as the offseason comes to an end.
Related: Stamkos extension ‘No. 1 priority’ this offseason, says Yzerman
It remains to be seen if Phil Kessel can silence his critics with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he’s doing his part to put work ethic murmurs to bed.
Despite making scores of defensemen look foolish (and sometimes winded) with his immensely underrated foot-speed, people have railed on the sniper for “not looking like an athlete.” Maybe that will remain the case, but he’s dropped 13 lbs. this summer, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
Dreger notes that Kessel lost the weight after going through Gary Roberts’ vaunted off-season plan, which drew rave reviews from players such as Steven Stamkos over the years.
So, with that, where are we at on the list of Kessel beefs? (Sifts through “doesn’t play defense” and “is bad with the media.”)
Then again, there’s always the Kyle Wellwood corollary: what if he’s better off with a little extra beef?
The injury news isn’t all bad for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
While it’s disappointing to hear that rising goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will be sidelined for two-to-three months, breakthrough star forward Tyler Johnson seems to be healing up quite well.
In fact, GM Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith that Johnson will be “ready to go” for training camp after suffering from a broken right wrist during the 2015 playoffs.
The 25-year-old topped all Lightning scorers with 72 points in 77 regular season games and maintained that momentum through the postseason.
It did seem like his game slowed a bit during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, and many believe that wrist injury explains the drop-off. With Steven Stamkos’ contract situation in flux, the Lightning will lean on Johnson quite a bit in 2015-16, so this update is a nice boost for the Bolts.
Lightning training camp begins on Sept. 17, so we’ll see if there are any setbacks for Johnson or other players.
More on Tyler Johnson: He’s under pressure.