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04-18-2011, 06:31 PM
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With 1 or 2 potential minor league exceptions I think ALL the RFAs will be re-signed to reasonable deals for wherever they're at in the system. I don't think there will be any drama surrounding Stamkos', Lundin's , nor Purcell's re-signings. Reasonable raises for all three that fit in the teams overall salary structure.

Of the UFA's;
Gagne - I don't see taking as large a discount as some. I think he was an acceptable luxury that fell into Yzermans lap, and that his salary only having one year left was and is a good thing. Gagne's skills are still good enough that someone will pay him more than the Lightning should.

Brewer - Contractually, the same boat as Gagne. Stable defender who deserves what he makes or a little more. Think Yzerman will be reluctant to sign him for a very long term, but, I think he can and should be retained just the same.

Roloson & Smith - Only want/expect one back, hope its Roloson, think it'll be Smith.

Jones - He deserves to be brought back at comparable rate and role next year as this. I don't see him getting a huge raise here nor anywhere, but he's adequate as a depth defenseman.

MAB - gone, possibly from the league entirely.

Bergenheim - Should be brought back, especially if Gagne departs. Might be able to pursue better situation or dollar amount elsewhere. Won't shock me if he is or isn't on the team next year, but, I'd like to see him return.

Hall - Journeyman journeys on. He might be brought back, but is still very much on the fringe between Tampa and Norfolk. Think he moves on elsewhere and its probably best for both.

Beyond attending to the free agents above, I think any free agent spending will be put toward the defense and/or goaltending. Even if we lose Gagne and Bergenheim we still have enough quality forwards in the system currently that we shouldn't be looking to break the bank to replace them. Biggest needs are starting Goalie and 2 top 4 Defensemen (Brewer hopefully one).

Trade scenarios are tougher to forecast, but I think Yzerman will continue to make shrewd moves in this regard. I think there will be a trade or two this summer involving players on the team we might not want or expect to be dealt out. I have faith that they'll be done to make the team better overall and succeed at doing just that.

The draft and further evolutions of the farm system will also be a nice offseason barometer of the organizations progress.

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