Big week ahead for the Lightning

By Ken Filler
Feb. 26, 2017

?As the season reaches the three quarter mark, the Lightning sit 8 points behind Boston in the division for the final playoff spot and seven points behind Toronto for the final wildcard spot. The Lightning are on a good roll and playing good hockey. They have collected points in seven out of nine games in February. The 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night was a real let down as the Lightning could not maintain any pressure in the offensive zone. 

The Lightning have 23 games left and only 5 against the Western conference. The Lightning must go 17-6 the rest of the way to finish with 96 points which may or may not be good enough for a playoff spot. The margin of error is razor thin and every night is a playoff game for the Lightning from this point forward. 

This week the Lightning will play 2 of 4 on the road this week hosting Ottawa and Carolina at home before heading  to Pittsburgh and Buffalo next weekend. 

As the treadle deadline approaches Wednesday, Some Lightning players are being talked about in potential trades. Goalie Ben Bishop is one name and I think has the best chance of being moved. Yes he has played much better as of late, but the goalie of the future Andrei Vasilevskiy is waiting for his chance to be no. 1. Bishop will be a unrestricted free agent this summer and he will command somewhere near 6 million a season to to retain him. With the salary cup possibly shrinking this off-season, there is no way Yzerman will commit that kind of money to Bishop. Also this summer, the expansion draft will take place in June. If Bishop is still on the roster he will probably be gone via a trade or pick-up in the expansion draft. 

Brian Boyle is the other name that has been talked about most frequently in trade talks. Boyle is one of those blue-collar type players that is not afraid to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Offense, defense, fighting, you name he will do it. Also, with the Loss of Stamkos and Callahan this season, Boyle has stepped up as a veteran and been a vocal leader in the Lightning dressing room.  He will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. 

Tyler johnson will also be a UFA after the season. Although his name has not been talked about much in trade talks, johnson could be moved by Wednesday. The Lightning are planning on Jonathan Drouin to replace Johnson's production should he be moved. 

A lot to take in over the next few days for this Lightning team. GM Steve Yzerman will have plenty of hard choices to make as Wednesday approaches. His decisions will shape the Lightning roster for the next few years. Yzerman has had a great track record in his roster moves. Let's hope his magic formula will continue this week. 

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