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So what is the biggest problem with the Lightning right now? Is it offense, goaltending, defense? Pick your poison if you will. There is room for improvement in all positions. Tonight, we’ll take a look at some of the free agent defenseman available at year’s end to see who I feel would fit in with the Lightning moving forward. You know things are bad with the team when you start talking about free agency in....December. But, what can I say, this topic interests me. The Lightning are going to need a lot of help and the blueline is no exception.

Without further ado, here is my list of five defensemen the Lightning should target this summer.

Willie Mitchell
Few guys in this league have as much character as Willie Mitchell. When he left the Canucks to sign with the Los Angeles Kings, it was a really sad day for a lot of Canuck fans. He is a true warrior and a great ambassador for the game of hockey. He’s not the fastest guy but in my opinion he is one of the top shutdown D-men in the league. The Lighting really don’t have a player like Mitchell. Right now, Mitchell is making $3.5million with the Kings. What would it take to sign him? Well, as a veteran guy, his prime years are behind him. I figure that you could sign Mitchell to a multi-year deal for $2-$3million.

Francois Beauchemin
He may not be the best defensive-defenseman but he can move the puck. Though he didn’t work out well in Toronto, Beauchemin is a proven performer in the playoffs. With Anaheim, he established himself as one of the more well-rounded puck movers in the Western Conference. He’s not the biggest guy, the fastest guy or the strongest guy, but he gets the job done night after night. He can play on the power-play while still maintaining fair defensive awareness. Currently making $3.8million, Francois would probably have to take a pay-cut to come down to Tampa.

Nicklas Grossman
Here is VERY underrated player. He can skate, move the puck well and is very talented in the defensive end. He’s one of those guys that has his named floated around the rumor mill yet you never really know much about him. The reason for his name being out there is that lots of GMs realize just how good this guy is. Playing in Dallas, Grossman doesn’t get the spotlight he would in let’s say, Toronto, but he is really effective at what he does and he will be attractive to a lot of teams looking for D-men this summer. All that said, is he out of our price range? He’s in for a hefty pay increase.

Pavel Kubina
Yes, I know he is already with the Lightning, but he is indeed a free agent at season’s end. Why do I think the Lightning should re-sign the Czech blueliner? Simple, he brings a size dynamic that really isn’t seen from a lot of players in this league. Sure, Hedman is tall, but does he play the same style of game that Kubina plays? I’d argue no. Kubina has shown that he can be a really effective player in all situations. He takes some heat at times but overall I do feel like he remains a good fit in Tampa.

Josh Gorges
This one may not have a shot at happening because of his potential asking price, but man would I love to see Josh Gorges skating around in a Lightning jersey. Gorges is one of those guys that will do anything for his team. He is hard-working, personable and apparently a great teammate. Talk to Montreal fans and they will tell you how much they need this guy. He is so valuable to whoever he plays for. Guys like him just don’t pop up on the free agent market all the time. In fact, there’s a good chance Gorges doesn’t make it to the market as you can bet the Habs’ brass will be doing everything to get him under contract for a really long time. So yes, it’s a long shot, but out of all the free agent defenseman who may be available, I think he’s the best fit.

I know I left names like Weber, Suter and Lidstrom off this list. And yes, it’s true that all are going to be “available” come the summer. But in all honesty, there’s no real shot at the Lightning acquiring any of those guys. If Lidstrom plays, it is in Detroit. As for the other two, wherever they play, they are going to be expensive, hot commodities. So, I put together a list of players who I felt may be obtainable. Do you agree with my picks? Who would you like to see in a Lightning jersey on the blueline next season?

I’ll continue this little series with forwards and goalies as the week goes on. Thanks for reading and have a good night.

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   defensemen   free   agent   frenzy  
December 14, 2011 12:36 AM ET | Delete
Buffalo has tons of D-men in the works. SekeraLeopoldWeberGragnaniMcNabbThey dont seem to be "no touch" pieces of our roster....
December 14, 2011 12:37 AM ET | Delete
I'd be interested to get a Sabres' fan's opinion on Leopold. Saw a bit of him in Calgary and Colorado, but don't know that much about him. Good veteran guy who can still perform?
December 14, 2011 5:05 AM ET | Delete
Hes been one of the most reliable blue liners for us this season. Hes a solid 2nd pairing guy who can still be used on the 2nd PP unit. I dont think once this season have I had an "AHH" moment with him. Hes making very little mistakes for a fine cap hit to boot and is locked up next year. Ryan Malone for Jordan LeopoldClose cap hits. Same ages really. We need size and a vet or two in the forward ranks.
December 14, 2011 6:27 AM ET | Delete
December 14, 2011 7:42 AM ET | Delete
Thanks for the response. I'd like to see Leopold in a Bolts uniform. He could be a good, affordable fit for us. As for the Malone deal, I wouldn't make it just yet. I want to wait for Connolly to develop before I ship Malone out.
December 14, 2011 7:45 AM ET | Delete
Give your head a shake with Kubina brother, he's a trainwreck. As for me, Mike Commodore.
December 14, 2011 7:47 AM ET | Delete
Message PostedAs for Bugsy, he may not have a ton of pints but I would take him over Lecavalier in a heartbeat. Ryan my not be as talented but he plays with more grit and drive then Vinny has shown in years.
December 14, 2011 8:12 AM ET | Delete
Commodore, interesting, very interesting. He could be a solid fit with the team most definitely.
December 14, 2011 8:13 AM ET | Delete
Artyukhin, what do you think happened to Vinny after the cup? Lost drive? Talent just doesn't disappear.
December 14, 2011 8:17 AM ET | Delete
As for Kubina, I think that there is still a lot of good play left in the guy. He wasn't bad in the playoffs last season (then again so was Brewer) and that talent just doesn't disappear. He was good for Toronto and effective for Atlanta. Given the right situation (and more importantly supporting cast), I think he can be good at the right price.
December 14, 2011 11:24 AM ET | Delete
You can have all of ours. Go ahead take em. No charge. You'll be doing us a favor.
December 14, 2011 11:27 AM ET | Delete
Unfortunately Streit is probably the only guy I'd have any interest in at this point. I feel bad for the Islander fan base. How many years of losing does it take to become a winner? Chicago and Edmonton seem to be doing it pretty quickly. Los Angeles and New York even moreso, not so much.
December 14, 2011 11:29 AM ET | Delete
A NMC, a fat paycheck and his own self-importance. I am wishing form the next CBA to have an amnesty buyout like the NBA did and we rid ourselves of his and Ohlunds contract. More pressing issue is a goalie. Garon has played well, but this goalie-go-round isn't helping....AT ALL!
December 14, 2011 11:54 AM ET | Delete
What are your thoughts on really pushing for a guy like Bernier out of Los Angeles? I think going young, but somewhat proven, is the answer.
December 14, 2011 12:09 PM ET | Delete
Bernier is good, but not much more then Tokarski is in the AHL. I am hopeful we can land Cory Schneider from the Canucks, seeing as they are paying Luongo ALLOT of money right now and Schneider is a RFA. I would table an offer like Downie, Panik, Clark (throwing out the trash helps) and a first for Schneider Ballard (they would love to drop him and we could use him) and a second
December 14, 2011 12:13 PM ET | Delete
Sorry, forgot about Garon too (because no infused right mind would take Roloson).
December 14, 2011 12:18 PM ET | Delete
If there is no D in front of him i dont care who is in net they won't be good. Tokarski i havent sceene enough to even make a judgment on him. If Cedrick the Entertainer didn't get hurt last year and we still had him he would be nice to have a good look at now. Ohlund's contract needs to go somehow some way. Get a solid Shut down D man that can play more then 1/2 a season and a Solid Puck mover we'll be in good shape.
December 14, 2011 12:19 PM ET | Delete
Infused? I hate my iPhone auto-correct. No one in there right mind I meant. As you can tell by my post I live in my on little fantasy world, but it's ok, then know me here. :)
December 14, 2011 12:33 PM ET | Delete
Oomroy, that's why I think that Mitchell could be a really good fit for us. He's that stay at home blueliner that everybody loves. Hard to come by guys like that, especially affordable ones.
December 14, 2011 12:35 PM ET | Delete
I'd love to get Schneider into a Bolts jersey. Cost to get him is going to be mighty high. That being said, I think that Yzerman may have to pay it. Goalies like Schneider don't just become available every day. Downie, Tokarski and a first for Schneider, Ballard and a second. I think that could possibly do it. Canucks will want a bucket load.
December 14, 2011 2:57 PM ET | Delete
December 14, 2011 3:21 PM ET | Delete
Message Posted
December 14, 2011 3:21 PM ET | Delete
I'm not ready to give up on the Tic just yet. Maybe Downie, Janus, Garon and a first.
December 14, 2011 5:49 PM ET | Delete
Sounds like Tokarski may be getting his shot, not yet but could be soon. Makes more sense then paniking and selling the farm for a a goalie. Could be a show case for a possable trade. I'm sure Stevie Y has something up his sleeve.
December 14, 2011 6:17 PM ET | Delete
I'd be interested to see if some Canuck fans would go for that deal. I posted on Canucks.com to see if they would take the same deal that Washington got for Varlamov and most people said not a chance unless the draft pick was Yakupov. They've got high hopes for the return.
December 14, 2011 8:35 PM ET | Delete
Yeah but people in Van are a little flaky brother. I should know I am originally from the area.
December 14, 2011 9:07 PM ET | Delete
As am I. While I don't agree with everything that's said by them, there's no doubt that Schneider is worth a bucketload.
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Blog Archive

01 Lightning News and Notes to Start December
02 Why Bolts Must Get Into Bobby Ryan Trade Discussions
02 Breaking News: Lightning Make Minor Trade with Panthers
03 10 Bold Predictions for Rangers vs. Lightning Game
04 Lightning Lose to Rangers: My Prediction Round Up
06 Simply Embarassing: Lightning Drop 5th Straight to Islanders
08 Lightning Beat Rangers to End Losing Streak - Mixed Bag
10 The 1-3-1 Returns: Flyers Take on Bolts at Wells Fargo
11 Lightning Fall to Flyers: The Slot Looks Like a Drive-Thru
12 From Bad to Worse + Lightning Sign Miettinen
14 Lightning Talk: Defensemen to Target in Free Agent Frenzy
14 Scenario
15 Bolts Squeeze By Flames Thanks to Dominant Second Period
17 Lightning Should Make a Push for Shea Weber
18 Bolts Down Blue Jackets + Rumor Round-Up
20 Why the Lightning WILL make the Playoffs This Season
22 Lightning Embarrassed by Sharks in San Jose: U-G-L-Y
22 Tampa Bay Lightning: I Want Your Opinions
23 Bolts vs. Avalanche: A Long-Winded Game Preview
24 Bolts Lose to Avalanche in Goalie Battle + Rumor Round-Up
25 Risky Business: Victor Hedman and Other Top-5 D-Men
26 Flyers vs. Bolts Shaping Up to be a Great Game -- Preview
27 Next 6 Games Vital for Lightning + My Predictions
27 Bryzgalov Shaky as Lightning Beat Up on Flyers
29 A Tale of Two Underperforming Teams: Bolts vs. Canadiens
29 A V for Vinny, a V for Victory: Bolts Down Habs 4-3
30 Bolts/Canes Preview + HB Hotstove Response + Rumor Update
31 Lightning Defeat 'Canes 5-2 on Phil Esposito Night