Back when Steve Yzerman was hired as the new general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was clear that changes were in the air. And, true to form, Yzerman has been busy this summer transforming the team into a contender.
In the two months since his hiring, Stevie Y has brought hope back to Florida’s only worthwhile hockey club. The team was eight points out of a playoff spot last year, but Yzerman has fans and players thinking big for 2010-2011. With the acquisitions and general mood in Tampa, it’s possible that the Lightning could be the team to step up and give the Capitals something to think about in the Southeastern Division.
Monday saw Yzerman pull off a deal that brought former Flyer Simon Gagne into the mix. He’s going to be a big piece of the already impressive offensive puzzle in Tampa, that’s for sure, and Yzerman essentially got him for a song. Gagne does have some injury risk, but it’s a low risk overall considering the payoff that a player of his skill level can bring.
Yzerman also locked up Martin St. Louis to a four year extension, assuring the team that they’d have their nucleus intact even with all the changes.
The signings and trades give the Lightning a heck of an impressive roster. Consider Vincent Lecavalier, Gagne, St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Malone as the offensive core of the club. Yzerman’s selection of Dan Ellis in goal shows moxie and his signings of Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark show that he’s paying attention to the team’s defensive questions too.
With this series of intelligent moves, Yzerman has given fans in Tampa reason to sit up and pay attention to their hockey club again. They may not be bound for the Finals immediately, mind you, but Yzerman has built one smart hockey team. And he’s wasted little time doing it.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.