The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their new superstar Sidney Crosby this week in sunny Florida. After taking a back seat to teams making high profile moves, TB GM reappeared at the discussion table when it came to talking trade. Crosby, along with Jonathan Tavares and Marian Gaborik, were the surprise big name acquisitions made this summer. In exchange, the Lighting swiftly shipped away former core players Ryan Murray, Ryan Kesler, and Brent Burns. Few expected the Lightning to make such bold moves after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in their first post-season appearance in three years.
When questioned about effecting team chemistry, or returning to the infamous TB GM tactics years ago, TB GM responded bluntly “We got swept. When you get shut down, you get shut down for a reason.” The Lighting, despite losing three one-goal games, lost in four straight to the eventual cup winning Pittsburgh team. “It was close, but we couldn’t find a way to take control of a game or break it open. I believe we now have two or three more players that can take over a game.” That statement is noteworthy given the status of Jonathan Tavares contract.
Tavares has one year left at $4.5 million dollars. He’s expected to qualify for at least $7 million dollars at the end of the season. Despite being a first overall selection, Tavares has struggled to produce at the level expected when he entered the league. TB GM stated that he believes a fresh start for Tavares and lower workloads given the centre depth the Lightning possesses will equal a breakout season. However, given the teams cap constraints, the Lighting might not be able to afford Tavares services at years end and his name could end up back on the block.
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