One of Steve Yzerman’s goals heading into this season was to bolster Tampa Bay’s back end, which he did by adding the likes of Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison to a group that already featured Victor Hedman, Matt Carle, Eric Brewer and Radko Gudas.
Now, the Bolts GM could be looking to add again.
After dealing away Brewer and losing Gudas for (likely) the remainder of the regular season, Tampa Bay is a little leaner on defense — especially after news that Carle is out indefinitely pending a specialist’s exam on his undisclosed injury.
“Could be a one day thing, one week, one month. I have no idea,” head coach Jon Cooper told the team website of Carle, who was hurt last Thursday and didn’t play on Saturday against Colorado. “We’ll hopefully get some good news today.”
Tampa Bay’s had health and depth concerns for the last few months. Hedman’s missed nearly half of the team’s games this year with various injuries; of the nine defensemen to dress for Tampa Bay this year, only one — Stralman — has appeared in all 47 contests. It’s also worth noting Cooper is now relying on a slew of untested youngsters including Luke Witkowski, Nikita Nesterov, Andrej Sustr and Mark Barberio.
So, no surprise to hear that Yzerman’s thinking about adding pieces via trade. But the GM also acknowledged it’s not a market flush with blueliners.
“Top-four (defensemen) are extremely hard to find,” he told the Tampa Tribune. “Teams aren’t giving them away, aren’t trading them either.”
That said, expect Yzerman to be aggressive in his pursuit. The Bolts are in win-now mode and the Eastern Conference is as wide open as it’s ever been. But for those clamoring for the likes of Jeff Petry out of Edmonton or Keith Yandle out of Arizona, some perspective: Cooper has suggested the team would rather add a more physical, gritty type to replace what they lost in Gudas.
Could someone like Carolina’s Tim Gleason — who leads all ‘Canes d-men in hits, and is a pending UFA — be a fit?