The Tampa Bay Lightning started their bye week Friday, yet made news this afternoon when they placed forward J.T. Brown on waivers. However, Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith writes that general manager Steve Yzerman said the move was made to open some roster flexibility for potential callups from their AHL Syracuse Crunch roster.
Smith writes the team is enamored with the play of several of their AHL players, including Adam Erne, Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Volkov and Matthew Peca and have suggested on many occasions the team may want to see some of them in a Lightning uniform this season.
“I wanted the flexibility within our roster, when the time comes, to recall players currently excelling in Syracuse and give them an opportunity to play,” Yzerman told the Times.
Erne has received some praise from Yzerman already, saying he’s “been playing his way out of the American League.” The 22-year-old wing was a second-round pick in 2013 and has 11 goals and 25 points in 37 games with the Crunch. He played 26 games for Tampa Bay last year. Verhaeghe, a former third-rounder in 2013, has eight goals and 16 assists in 24 games. Volkov, the team’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft, has 10 goals and 22 assists in his first season in the AHL and is just 20 years old. Peca was named as an AHL all-star and leads the team with 29 points.
- The Athletic’s Craig Custance (subscription required) interviewed New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes, who says that wing Taylor Hall has made a successful transition to team leader, but it took a while. Hall, who was acquired by trade in the offseason two years ago was unhappy about being traded to New Jersey, although he said it had more to do with the troubles in Edmonton and his inability to turn the franchise’s success around. Hynes added that it took a full year for Hall to recover from the change. However, the 26-year-old former first overall pick in 2010 spoke with general manager Ray Shero after last season and they talked about him taking over the leadership role this season and he’s done just that. He has 15 goals and 27 assists in 39 games this year. “Now, I think you see a guy, he’s gone through that mourning period and now, this is his team,” said Hynes. “New Jersey’s his team, it’s his city, he has pride in what we’re doing. He’s bought in and he’s helping drive our team to become a much more competitive team than we have been in the past.”
- The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek writes (subscription required) that the best way for the Ottawa Senators to make a contract work for future 2019 unrestricted free agent Erik Karlsson work would be spend this offseason working hard to unload the contract of veteran Bobby Ryan. The scribe writes that while center Matt Duchene will also need a new contract, he is already making $6MM and likely wouldn’t command a contract too much more than that. However, Karlsson is likely to cost at least $10MM per year and possibly as much as $12MM per year if the salary cap continues to rise. If the team can find a way to unload Ryan, who will make $7.25MM for the next four seasons after this one, that would solve a lot of Ottawa’s problems. Duhatschek suggests finding a way to have the Vegas Golden Knights, who should have up to $40MM in cap space available next year, take Ryan off their hands and even suggests the Senators retain half his salary to make that work.