Tag: Tampa Bay Lightning

Adam Larsson

Devils GM: Larsson has ‘only scratched the surface’ of his potential


New Jersey Devils blueliner Adam Larsson has been a disappointment at times, especially to those who took the Victor Hedman comparisons a little too seriously.

Still, he finally showed flashes of brilliance once he was “liberated from Peter DeBoer’s prison for young defensemen,” as Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski wrote. Apparently the Devils saw enough to sign him to one of those deals that stands as risky today, but could be brilliant down the line: six years, $25 million.

Again, considering his production at this point, a $4.167 million cap hit seems a little steep. Larsson’s just 22 right now – he’ll turn 23 in November – so it isn’t crazy to ponder a significant leap. Defensemen take longer to develop, after all.

Devils GM Ray Shero definitely seems to think that the young Swede’s best days are ahead of him, as the Bergen Record notes.

“I think he’s only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be,” Shero said. “There’s a reason he was drafted when he was. He’s got a lot of experience already. He’s played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”

Shero believes the contract stands as a “good deal for both sides,” as Larsson gets a long-term deal while the Devils buy three of his unrestricted years.

Ultimately, though, we’ll probably look at it as either an overpay for a somewhat disappointing prospect (selected fourth overall in 2011) or a brilliant steal for a player who finally hits his prime.

In other words, if things work out, the Hedman comparisons might not be so outrageous after all.

Lightning re-sign 2011 first-round pick Namestnikov, depth d-man Witkowski

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The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed center Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Friday.

Namestnikov, 22, was selected by the Lightning 27th overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft. In 43 games with the Lightning this season, he emerged onto the scene by scoring nine goals and had 16 points, and also appeared in 12 post-season games as Tampa Bay made its run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Witkowski, 25, appeared in 16 games for the Lightning this season. He spent the majority of this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

Drouin: ‘Nobody wants to go to the AHL’

Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin admits he has “a little chip” on his shoulder.

The 20-year-old Tampa Bay forward — a healthy scratch for most of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final — told NHL.com on Tuesday that he’s determined not to spend any time in the AHL next season.

Drouin was not eligible to play in the minors this past season.

“Nobody wants to go to the AHL,” Drouin said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking about making the team and making more of an impact. Last year a lot of people said it wasn’t my greatest year, but I gained a lot, I learned a lot, and I’m definitely more ready going into the season, into training camp.”

The third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Drouin’s absence from the Lightning lineup was a popular topic of discussion during the postseason. More than once, he had to deny there was a rift with coach Jon Cooper. He denied it again Tuesday, calling Cooper a “good guy” and “a great player’s coach.”

Back in May, Cooper explained the decision to limit Drouin’s role by saying, “There is more than one net in a rink. There’s two. You have to be able to play in front of both.”

Based on that, it seems Drouin’s ability to play a complete game will determine much of his fate next season.

Related: Johnson learned ‘there were two nets’ in the AHL; will Drouin be taught the same thing?

Despite rumors, Linden says Canucks haven’t tried to trade Higgins

Chris Higgins

On Monday, Canucks president Trevor Linden addressed trade rumblings surrounding one of his team’s most veteran skaters, Chris Higgins.

“Chris Higgins is an important player on our team,” Linden said in a statement, per The Province. “We have not talked to any clubs about trading him.

“We value Chris both for his on-ice abilities and his leadership in the locker-room.”

That Linden responded to the Higgins rumors was telling… because, um, Linden’s kinda the reason they’re out there.

Last week, he and Vancouver GM Jim Benning caught heat during a ticketholder event, as fans voiced their displeasure over the club’s offseason moves. Benning was actually booed after revealing he could’ve traded veteran goalie Ryan Miller rather than fan favorite Eddie Lack.

After the event, Linden reportedly pulled aside some of the more vocal attendees for a mini-hotstove.

From The Province:

It was not an easy night for Linden or Benning.

“When you’re sitting in this chair, it’s not as easy as you think,” Linden said.

What he did do, when it was over, was call over the biggest critics of the night for a 10-minute session.

It was a nice gesture, but may have been ill-advised.

In it, Linden revealed several tidbits, including his pitch that the Canucks have been trying to trade Chris Higgins but have found they cannot move his contract.

In short order, the comments were all over social media, and then on the radio. The Higgins trade horse is officially out of the barn.

Maybe they’re hoping something will change in August — unlikely — or people will forget to ask Higgins when he comes back to town in two months. Again, unlikely.

(Take this for what it’s worth, but one attendee apparently recapped meeting Linden on HF Boards.)

It’s hard to know where this leaves Higgins, 32, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $10 million deal with a pretty affordable $2.5M average annual cap hit. It’s not a Benning contract; Higgins was extended by Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, and the deal includes a Gillis staple — a no-trade clause (granted, it’s a limited NTC.)

As such, it wasn’t surprising to hear rumors of the Canucks trying to move Higgins. Benning’s already shipped out Gllis-era holdovers like Lack, Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler and Tom Sestito in his attempt to reshape the club — in that light, it would make sense that Higgins, who had 12 goals and 36 points last year, was dangled in potential trade talks.

Unless, of course, he wasn’t.

Agent on Stamkos’ contract talks: ‘I don’t think we have any criteria on timing at this point’

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

The window for the Tampa Bay Lightning to begin contract extension talks with captain Steven Stamkos opened on July 1; however, the two sides have yet to start negotiations.

As it stands, Stamkos has one year remaining on his five-year, $37.5 million deal, which will pay him $5.5 million next season.

“I don’t think we have any criteria on timing at this point in time,” Stamkos’ agent Don Meehan told TSN. “I’ve mentioned to Steve Yzerman that we’re going to have a meeting with Steven, and then once we’ve had the meeting with Steven, then I can go back to Steve (Yzerman).

“He understands that and understands that Steven is in the process of coming back home and getting acclimatized here and getting into his training. He understands the time frame in that respect.”

Stamkos scored 43 goals and 72 points in 82 regular season games last season. He added seven goals and 18 points in 26 playoff games.

The 25-year-old has appeared in 492 regular season games with Tampa scoring 276 goals and 498 points over seven NHL seasons.

“Steven is only a few weeks away from being in the Stanley Cup Final and he’s only just got back to Toronto this past week so he’s going to have an opportunity of getting his feet back on the ground and then coming in and having a discussion with our group in the office,” said Meehan. “Then we would go from there.

“Anytime either management or the player’s side is negotiating a contract or dealing with issues like this, it’s substantive, it’s complicated, it’s detailed and it takes some time.”