Joe Smith answers Tampa Bay questions
Joe Smith from The Athletic Q&A: Tampa Bay polarized the hockey world this season. First, it was there rise and then their postseason thud. Several questions focused on Erik Karlsson in a variety of forms.
However, that led to Braydon Coburn. His $3.7 million AAV was steep last year but if he were to sign for cheaper, that would help Tampa. Coburn cleared players out of the crease much like Erik Cernak. One of the other needs seems to be a vocal leader of sorts.
One thing is clear. Tampa Bay fans may see Cal Foote as soon as this season as Jan Rutta is little more than a placeholder.
The focus is on Brayden Point. There is a number and once that deal is signed, the Lightning can deal with the rest.
Then, Joe Smith mentioned Connor Ingram, who still has a year left before he becomes a restricted free agent. Tampa Bay expects to give it one more shot then a move may be made.
Tampa Bay’s youth had strong tournaments and could be a springboard next year. As for the Columbus dilemma, Tampa clearly dipped heading into the playoffs and ran into a hungry team that pushed them around.
What the Nashville Predators may look for among free agents
Adam Vingan of The Athletic: Again, Nashville has considerable offensive and special teams needs. One of the biggest targets will be Matt Duchene. Furthermore, Duchene owns property in Nashville which fuels speculation. Nashville appears to be a frontrunner but the field is wide open.
After that, there are some intriguing names lingering. Kevin Hayes could become a real sleeper because of how poorly Winnipeg deployed him in the playoffs.
After that, Gustav Nyquist has some possibility plus could mesh well enough on the second line. Some will argue that Duchene is the bigger need for line two.
Finally, there is Marcus Johansson, who could be a cheaper second-line choice for Nashville come free agency. His salary projection comes in at less than $5 million AAV which is good for a cost-conscious Predators squad.