For the Lightning, the future starts now. Look at the core of this team and it’s pretty obvious. What makes a winner? It’s the ability to draft well, develop players and sign key free agents at the right time. You can bet that Steve Yzerman is doing his best to model the Bolts after the Detroit Red Wings. So, since Yzerman’s own retirement from the Motor City, who has been the main staple of that team? Well, look no further than Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s their guy and he will continue to be their guy until the day he hangs up his skates. What more do you want in a leader and defenseman? He’s smart, offensively gifted, defensively aware and as calm as they come. The question then becomes where Yzerman is going to find his Nicklas Lidstrom for this team right now.
A lot of people may not share my opinion on this, but I don’t see Victor Hedman turning into that superstar D-man. He’s going to be a great 1b/2a guy for this team for a really long time, but does he have that superstar aura about him? I would argue that he doesn’t. Right now, as pointed out by a few commenters on my last blog, this team is relying on 30 year old, washed up guys who can’t seem to play the minutes they are being given (Yes, that means you Mr. Clark and Mr. Kubina). Hedman is going to be with this team long-term and I think that Brewer fits into the long-term plan as well. That being said, is Brewer really a number one or two d-man on a really good team? I don’t think so. To me, Brewer would slot really well into that number 3 hole.
Now, this summer is going to be a really interesting one when it comes to defenseman. My argument for Steve Yzerman, and this team, is that we should push for Shea Weber if he becomes available. I understand that he’ll be expensive, but this guy takes this team from perennial playoff team to cup contender. To me, you bring in Weber to be the next captain of this team. His leadership qualities are superb for a relatively young guy and his skill set is virtually unmatched in the NHL.
Think about this for a second. You could have Hedman lining up with Weber behind Stamkos, St. Louis and Malone on the power play. How does that sound? That would arguably be the best power play (on paper) in the entire National Hockey League.
Weber is the kind of D-man who can put up 15+ goals in a season and score really high point totals on an offensively weak Nashville roster. Imagine him feeding Stamkos and St. Louis; it would be awe striking.
Not only do I believe that Weber will come in and be a superstar; he could come in and make other players better. Let’s look at the whole Detroit situation again. Players want to play with Lidstrom and they will do just about anything to get on the ice with him. The whole stigma that follows the guy around is second to none in this league. Weber would probably be the number two guy in that respect. Opposition players cower at the thought of his shot, fear his tenacity and respect his leadership qualities. What more would you ever want in a guy?
The Lightning really are built to win now. While the future doesn’t look bleak, you’d love to see this team have some success before St. Louis decides to retire. Bringing in Weber would all but guarantee some measurement of success. Also, think of the implications with the Tampa hockey community. Bringing in a superstar, no matter what the sport, draws in headlines. Wouldn’t it be great to see hockey be the number one story for a while?
I get that dealing for Weber would be ridiculously expensive and it would probably never happen, but can’t a fan dream? Bringing in Weber makes so much sense on so many levels (Ah yes, you can bet that 28 other teams are saying the same thing). I’m not saying he’s a must for this team, but at least give it a shot.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93