Recchi rides the Lightning
Before I get into the interesting grab bag of forwards the Lightning have put together, a few words on Mark Recchi signing a $1.25-million contract with Tampa Bay.
Recchi was on a bit of a roller coaster last season. He started the year on a powerhouse in Pittsburgh, was placed on waivers early on and ended up in Atlanta, where a point-a-game start through 20 games turned into diminishing returns as things fell apart with the Thrashers.
Recchi ended up with 40 points in 53 games in Atlanta, but was also minus-16 — which included a stretch late in the year when he went minus-9 in 13 games.
Even at 40, Recchi proved he can still be a pretty effective player in the right situation. He was eaten alive last season at even strength, and really shouldn't be played against top opposition or without decent defensive linemates, but on the power play, he remains a major threat.
Recchi finished 15th in the league in points per minute at 5-on-4, and could really excel in that role with the high-powered Lightning.
He also is incredibly durable, so much so that I'd wager he's likely missed the fewest games in a 1,400+ game career ever. Recchi has played 78 games or more in thirteen of his 17 non-lockout seasons, averaging 79 games played a year.
He played 18 minutes a night last season, far too many given his age, but in a third-line and special teams role, should be able to produce 20 goals and 50+ points at a bargain price.
If Joe Sakic retires, he'll also be the NHL's active career scoring leader next season. And with another 44 points, he'll pass Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, Dale Hawerchuk, Doug Gilmour, Adam Oates and Bryan Trottier into 14th on the all-time scoring list.
Not too shabby.
The real question in Tampa these days (one of them, anyway) is where all of these new bodies are going to play. Including the newly inked trio of Recchi, Evgeny Artyukhin and Brandon Bochenski, I count 17 NHL-calibre forwards on the roster, which is at least four too many in my books.
The Lightning's potential line combinations:
Prospal - Lecavalier - St. Louis
Malone - Stamkos - Vrbata
Jokinen - Halpern - Recchi
Roberts - Craig - Hall
That looks like a pretty darn solid top 12, but it leaves Michel Ouellet, Artyukhin, Jason Ward, Nick Tarnasky and Bochenski on the sidelines.
Believe it or not, at some point in the coming weeks (or months), the Lightning has more deals in the works. I imagine they won't want to increase payroll over the $48-million currently accounted for, but a veteran defenceman is, at this point, a must.
Filip Kuba is, at the moment, the only Tampa blueliner with more than 220 games played.
- Lightning co-owner Len Barrie predicts his team wins the Southeast Division. I don't know about that, but I'm comfortable enough predicting they'll be better than last season
- Greg Wyshynski uses a nonsensical argument to outline why the Dan Boyle incident won't scare players off from signing in Tampa. I don't mind criticism, but how on earth does the fact Malone, Vrbata, Prospal, Roberts, etc., signed well before the Boyle trade have any relation to what I talked about here?
- And Olaf Kolzig sounds pretty determined to have a rebound campaign in 2008-09. They're going to need him