The Tampa Bay Lightning were among the teams that couldn’t win the Brad Richards sweepstakes, but they have bigger fish to fry with Steven Stamkos anyway. The team still has a ways to go before they can re-sign Stamkos, though, so in the mean time they’re answering smaller questions. That includes the question of their suspect defense; they tried to take a step in the right direction by signing former New York Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy to a one-year, $1 million deal.
The Lightning will have a different question to answer this season: which six defensemen will they dress? Eight blueliners are under contract at the NHL-level now: Gilroy, Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman, Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, Brett Clark, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Bruno Gervais. One wonders if there might be an odd man out among this bunch, but perhaps head coach Guy Boucher will enjoy having so many options.
Gilroy will probably need to fight for his playing time, then. He scored 11 points and averaged 14:11 minutes per game in 58 contests during the 2010-11 season and 15 points and 16:19 time on ice in 69 games in 09-10 with the Rangers. New York decided not to extend a qualifying offer his way, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. Gilroy has the kind of skating ability and offensive potential could make him an interesting alternating option with Bergeron, but we’ll see if other moves follow the addition of Gilroy.