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Lightning opens day two of draft by taking Russian wing

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said one area of need in the system was a right winger.

And Tampa Bay added a skilled one in selecting Russian Alexander Volkov in the second round (No. 48 overall). There's not a ton of information out there on Volkov, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound wing.  He played for SKA St. Petersburg of the MHL, the Russian junior league, tallying six goals and five ssists in 16 games. He also racked up four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in four playoff games.

But with a deep forward prospect pool, the Lightning had the flexibility to take a chance, and looks like Volkov could be it.

The Lightning addressed another need in Friday's first round, taking big, right-shot defenseman Cal Foote, son of former NHL'er Adam Foote. 

Tampa Bay has four more picks today, No. 76 (third), No. 159 (sixth), No. 180 (sixth), No. 200 (7th).

 

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Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.

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Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.

While the Lightning is still trying to bolster its blueline via trade, it selected a big, right shot defenseman Cal Foote at No. 14 overall Friday in the NHL Draft.

Foote, 18, is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote. He has size and physicality like his dad, but Cal also can score, with 57 points in 71 games with Keowna (WHL).

There were plenty of options available for the Lightning, including Russian power forward Klim Kostin. But Tampa Bay added a strong right shot defenseman into its system.

 

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Lightning unveils road jersey, events for 25th anniversary season

The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey

The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

That event will be held Nov. 4 before a game against the Blue Jackets, coached by former Lightning coach John Tortorella. That means Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards will likely be reunited again.

 

 

Other events include a Brew Fest Aug. 5, and a ceremony to recognize the original 1992-93 team Oct. 14. There's also a ceremony celebrating the 25 favorite Lightning personnel (players, executives, personalities), which is TBA. Tampa Bay will host the All Star Game Jan. 27-28.

There is, however, no plans as of yet to have a jersey retirement ceremony, VP Bill Wickett said. Would think Lecavalier's No. 4 is next, with Marty St. Louis the first to get retired last season.

The Lightning also unveiled its new road jersey, which will no longer have "Tampa Bay" on the front, just the logo. There will be a 25th anniversary patch on the right shoulder.

 

 

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Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?

The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.

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The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

Several teams are shopping defensemen, most notably the Wild, who appear close on a deal with left-shot defenseman Marco Scandella, per Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Wild has been asking for a first round pick in any package; Tampa Bay picks No. 14 tonight.

Would think Tampa Bay is more interested in Wild right-shot Matt Dumba, as well as Jonas Brodin, but it likely depends on the price. The Lightning is also reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks. That's a pretty stiff price. …

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Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning

Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.

Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

That's what made Thursday so gratifying for Budaj, 34, who signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year. The Times reported the agreement Tuesday, the deal wasn't announced until Thursday's roster freze was over.

"I know I can play and I never doubted myself," Budaj told the Times Thursday. "It was tough but I always believed I could do it."

Budaj, acquired at the March deadline from the Kings in the Ben Bishop trade, decided to forego unrestricted free agency July 1 to sign early with Tampa Bay. Budaj, who won three of his four Tampa Bay starts, loved his short time with the Lightning.

"I really liked the organization, liked the team," Budaj said. "I had a very good vibe when I was there." …

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With trade freeze over, Lightning could be active

The Lightning could target a veteran defenseman on the market, such as MInnesota's Matt Dumba.

AP photo

The Lightning could target a veteran defenseman on the market, such as MInnesota's Matt Dumba.

With the dust settling on the expansion draft saga, the Lightning can now focus on addressing some of its needs.

And with around $23 million in cap space for next season, GM Steve Yzerman can be active and aggressive on the trade and free agent market. There are expected to be many league-wide deals this weekend at the NHL Draft in Chicago, now that the roster freeze was lifted at 8 a.m.

"I would say we're going to explore every opportunity to make our team better," Yzerman said.

One area of focus is expected to be the blueline. Tampa Bay did acquire a potential top-pairing defenseman in prospect Mikhail Sergachev in last week's Jonathan Drouin blockbuster with Montreal. The Lightning was able to hold onto young defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin thanks to a side deal with Vegas at the expansion draft, paying the price of the rights of forward prospect Nikita Gusev, a second-round pick this weekend and a fourth rounder next year. …

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Lightning loses Jason Garrison in expansion draft

The Lightning was able to clear $4.6 million in cap space for next season, thanks to Vegas making defenseman Jason Garrison its selection.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The Lightning was able to clear $4.6 million in cap space for next season, thanks to Vegas making defenseman Jason Garrison its selection.

The Lightning was able to hold onto its unprotected young defensemen Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek in Wednesday's expansion draft.

Tampa Bay was also able to clear $4.6 million in cap space for next season, thanks to Vegas making defenseman Jason Garrison its selection.

But it came at a cost.

Tampa Bay shipped the rights to Russian wing prospect Nikita Gusev to Vegas, along with a second round pick this season and a fourth round pick in 2018. Gusev, a seventh-rounder in 2012, has one more year left on his deal in the KHL and has no immediate plans to play in the NHL, per agent Dan Milstein.

The Lightning did have two second rounders in this weekend's draft, but a couple picks plus Gusev is a hefty price, showing how much leverage the Golden Knights had over other NHL teams.

For Tampa Bay, that cap space will likely be used to search for another defenseman, either via trade or free agency, which opens July 1.

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Victor Hedman finishes third in Norris Trophy voting

Victor Hedman had a career season, with 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) in 16 games.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Victor Hedman had a career season, with 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) in 16 games.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman knew he was a "longshot" Wednesday to win the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league's top defenseman.

But Hedman was honored to be one of three finalists, finishing third in voting behind winner Brent Burns (San Jose) and fellow Swede Erik Karlsson (Ottawa). Burns had 96 first place votes, Karlsson 63 and Hedman three.

Hedman had a career season, with 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) in 16 games. This was the first time he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy, but likely not the last.

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Who will Lightning lose in expansion?

Veteran defenseman Jason Garrison is the favorite to be picked by Vegas in the expansion draft.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Veteran defenseman Jason Garrison is the favorite to be picked by Vegas in the expansion draft.

There is still nothing official on what player the Lightning will lose tonight in the expansion draft with the Vegas Golden Knights.

But the Tampa Bay Times can confirm there are several players Vegas has not chosen, which points to an expected side deal, with veteran Jason Garrison the favorite to be picked.

The Lightning is believed to have made a deal to hold onto young defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin, both of whom are restricted free agents. Center Yanni Gourde, who made a splash as a rookie last season, isn't one of the two unrestricted free agents that Vegas has selected, the Times has learned. Forward J.T. Brown hasn't yet been contacted, a sign he hasn't been selected.

So that means it is all the more likely Tampa Bay has a side deal with Vegas. We've reported prospect Nikita Gusev's rights appear headed to the Golden Knights as part of this trade. But the most likely candidate to head to Vegas is Garrison, who has a $4.6 million cap hit for next season, the final year in his deal. Fellow defenseman Andrej Sustr is another option. So, albeit unlikely, is Cedric Paquette. …

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Lightning home opener Oct. 6 against Panthers

Lightning center Yanni Gourde scores on Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer after getting by center Vincent Trocheck during a game in March in Tampa.

AP photo

Lightning center Yanni Gourde scores on Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer after getting by center Vincent Trocheck during a game in March in Tampa.

The Lightning announced today its home opener next season will be Oct. 6 against the Florida Panthers.

The full schedule will be released Thursday at 3 p.m.

Tampa Bay also opened the season at home last year, against Detroit.

 

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Could Lightning prospect Nikita Gusev be on the move?

If the Lightning is indeed making a side deal with Vegas to protect its young defensemen - or lose a contract like Jason Garrison's - it would likely have to part with a promising prospect.

One candidate appears to be Russian wing Nikita Gusev.

Gusev's rights could be dealt to the Golden Knights today, per source. Russian site Sovsport.ru also reported a trade is "likely." Gusev, 24, has one more year left on his deal with SKA.

Gusev, a Lightning seventh-round pick in 2012, is a talented scorer in the KHL, racking up 24 goals (and 71 points) in 57 games. His linemate, Vadim Shipachyov, has already signed with Vegas. Another one, Evgeny Dadonov, could be heading there too, making for an interesting Russian reunion.

Now, there's no guarantee Gusev's rights are dealt, but it's been part of the discussions with Vegas. Tampa Bay has previously offered Gusev just an AHL-only deal or a two-way deal, but the talented winger is enjoying a prominent role with SKA. …

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New Lightning home jersey unveiled

Tampa Bay Lightning

The NHL and adidas on Tuesday night unveiled new home jerseys for all 31 teams, including the Lightning.

The new ADIZERO Authentic jerseys are made of lighter and cooler materials and stronger fabrics than their Reebok predecessors without changing the basic design. In the case of the Lightning, the biggest difference is the removal of laces from the neckline, creating a more streamlined look.

 

The Lightning road jersey will be released at an exclusive Season Ticket Member event Friday during the NHL Draft.

 

The new jerseys will be available for pre-orders at Tampa Bay Sports locations in Amalie Arena and International Plaza starting on Saturday. They will retail for $179.99, with authentic lettering available for an additional $100.

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Lightning appears to have side deal to protect young defensemen

Jake Dotchin, 23, helped solidify the top-four in the second half of last season.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Jake Dotchin, 23, helped solidify the top-four in the second half of last season.

Hearing the Lightning has a side deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to protect one or more of its young defensemen.

Those types of trades won't be announced until Wednesday, so details aren't available yet. GM Steve Yzerman neither confirmed nor denied whether he has a side deal.

"It's not something I'd share publicly at this time," Yzerman told the Times.

But it certainly makes sense for Tampa Bay to try to find a way to hold onto both Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin, both of whom were left unprotected.

Dotchin, 23, helped solidify the top-four in the second half of last season, joining Victor Hedman in the top pairing. Koekkoek, 23, was the 10th overall pick in 2012, and had a strong finish to the season in AHL Syracuse and should get a shot to crack the lineup next season. Both are restricted free agents.

The Lightning protected Hedman, Stralman and Braydon Coburn as the third 'D'.

As for the return, the Lightning could package a veteran defenseman - like a Jason Garrison or Andrej Sustr - with a prospect. Tampa Bay has several young promising forward prospects in their system coming out of junior. The Lightning also has two second round picks in this year's draft.

 

 

 

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Victor Hedman a 'longshot' for Norris Wednesday

Victor Hedman is a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Victor Hedman is a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

It's already been one heck of a summer for Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.

Hedman, 26, experienced the euphoria of winning a gold medal for Sweden at last month's World Championships in Paris. Now, Hedman is in Las Vegas for Wednesday's NHL Awards, as he's a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

The other finalists are Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) and Brent Burns (San Jose), who are the favorites.

"It's obviously a tremendous honor for me," Hedman told the Times. "To be there with Erik, too, playing with him when we're under 15, under-16 national teams. Kind of growing up together on that stage. And then playing in NHL and getting nominated together for the Norris, its' a good feeling. I obviously know it's a long shot to win, but just to go there and experience everything, it's going to be so cool, to see everything and how it works, take it all in."

In Hedman's recent conversation with the Times, he also discussed winning gold at the World Championships, the Olympics, the Jonathan Drouin trade and the state of the Lightning.

Q: How would you describe the experience of winning gold at Worlds? …

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Peter Budaj agrees to two-year extension with Lightning

Peter Budaj is in the process of agreeing to a two-year deal with the Lightning.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Peter Budaj is in the process of agreeing to a two-year deal with the Lightning.

The Lightning has said its first choice for backup goaltender was bringing back veteran Peter Budaj.

And it looks like Tampa Bay has got its wish, with Budaj, 34, in the process of agreeing to a two-year deal, the Tampa Bay Times has confirmed. The annual average would be $1.025 million. There's a league-wide roster freeze until Wednesday, other than for the Vegas Golden Knights, which is why this won't be official. Budaj was left unprotected for Wednesday's expansion draft, but it would appear Vegas would have other options.

Budaj, 34, acquired by the Lightning in the Ben Bishop trade to L.A. at the March 1 trade deadline, impressed, winning three of four starts down the stretch. He also worked tremendously well with No. 1 goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Budaj, an unrestricted free agent July 1, passed up the chance to see what was out there, knowing he wanted to stay in Tampa Bay. …

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