Lightning won’t qualify Lindback, yet he could still return

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will opt against handing Anders Lindback a qualifying offer … but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be back with the Bolts in 2014-15, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.

Not qualifying the big backup might seem like a clear sign of a split, yet it’s a lot easier to understand when you consider the cost: it would have required an expensive $2.2 million offer.

That’s $200K more than Tomas Vokoun made in his deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins as more of a 1B to Marc-Andre Fleury than a true backup. Despite also being a former Nashville Predators netminder, Lindback is no Vokoun. At least not yet.

Lindback went 10-10-1 in 2012-13 with the Lightning, yet any hopes of him topping a mediocre performance (.902 save percentage) fizzled as he was even worse this past season. At the moment, he’s well under .500 in regular season games with the Lightning and experienced a pretty miserable series against the Montreal Canadiens.*

It’s not that far-fetched to imagine a return because, frankly, the Lightning might be one of the few teams open-minded enough to give the towering 26-year-old a halfway decent deal. They gave up a whopping package of two second-rounders and one third-rounder to nab Lindback from Nashville, so there could still be some organizational drive to get more out of that lopsided trade.

“We are going to look and see what is out there, but (Lindback) is on the list,’’ Yzerman said.

It’s tough to tell how many other teams will have Lindback on their lists … at least in the NHL.

* – To be fair, he wasn’t the only one.