Acquisition Targets: Defensemen

It’s no secret the Lightning are in need of another top-4 defenseman if they are to make a run at the conference title next season. With the expected departure of Sami Salo this summer, and the overuse of Radko Gudas last year, there’s a hole next to Victor Hedman on the top pair that has to be filled. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a hoard of tradable assets in his back pocket ready to make a deal (2 first round picks this year and next, young forwards with scoring upside, Gudlevskis/Wilcox) in June.

The following list is as informal as it gets. These are players who are either rumored to be on the block, may be on the block (not “core*” players), or could be available for the right price based on their individual situations or existing depth on their respective clubs.

The list is limited to right-handed defensemen, preferably with the ability to move the puck and run a power play (unless otherwise noted). Lightning coach Jon Cooper used Mike Kostka more than he probably should have last year as he was one of the few (only?) players he had able to move the puck on the right side. Cooper has shown in his career with the Lightning organization that gives his defensemen a bright green light, and the more forward-like they are while maintaining defensive responsibilities, the better.

The following categories are broken down into those capable of top-4 minutes now, those who could work their way into that role quickly, and those who could be acquired in addition to a top-4 if Yzerman wants to get a righty puckmover on the cusp of top-6 defensemen minutes – something that is severely lacking in the system.

World Championships Game Day: Finals

Gold Medal Match
Russia 5 vs. Finland 2
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Sergei Bobrovski made 24 saves for Russia as they toppled Finland 5-2 to win the 2014 IIHF World Championships. Andrei Vasilevskiy sat backup for the triumph. Alexander Ovechkin and former Coyotes first rounder Viktor Tikhonov each had goals for Russia in the victory. Bobrovski and Tikhonov were named the tournament's best goaltender and forward by the tournament directors and Tikhonov also made the media's tournament all-star team.

World Championships Game Day: Semifinals

Russia 3 vs. Sweden 1
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Yesterday, starter Sergei Bobrovski turned aside 22 shots as Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 to advance to the Gold Medal Match of the World Championships. Andrei Vasilevskiy sat backup. Ex-Kings pick Oscar Moller scored the only goal of the match for the Swedes.

Sweden plays Czech Republic in the Bronze Medal Match while Russia draws Finland in the Gold Medal match.

Bolts Give Tyler Johnson 3 Year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed center Tyler Johnson to a three-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Johnson was scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

Johnson, 5-foot-9, 181 pounds, played in his first full NHL season in 2013-14 and parlayed it into a nomination for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. He was one of three players to appear in all 82 games during the regular season, ranking fourth on the Lightning for goals with 24 and fifth for points with 50. His plus-23 rating was second on the team. Johnson was third among NHL rookies for points and tied for first for goals. He led all NHL first-year forwards for average time on ice with 18:47 per game and face-offs taken with 1,275. Johnson became just the second rookie in NHL history, the first since Dennis Maruk in 1975-76, to record five power-play and five shorthanded goals in one season.

World Championships Game Day: Quarterfinals

USA 3 vs. Czech Republic 4
Tyler Johnson, USA, 2-0-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 6-3-9, +3, 2 PIM

Tyler Johnson scored a pair of goals within 13 seconds late in the Third Period in USA's failed comeback as they fell 4-3 to Czech Republic. Johnson was 43% on draws in 21:18 in the match. The Czech's got a helper from ageless Jaromir Jagr in the win.

Russia 3 vs. France 0
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Sergei Bobrovski stopped all 16 shots he faced in Russia's 3-0 blanking of upstart France. Russia got a goal and an assist from Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the win. Also of note, Alexander Ovechkin played 14:46 in the game after shrugging off a knee injury suffered earlier in the tournament.

Sweden 3 vs. Belarus 2
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 14 PIM

Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm’s goal with 6:22 left in the Third Period broke up a tie game and delivered Sweden a 3-2 Quarterfinals win over home nation Belarus. Ekholm also had a helper in the contest.

The Semifinals Round will pit Russia against Sweden and Finland, which defeated Canada today, against Czech Republic.

Bolts Sign Blujus

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Dylan Blujus to a three-year entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Blujus, 20, skated in 55 games with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 season, collecting four goals and 30 points to go along with 56 penalty minutes. He led all Battalion defensemen for assists with 26. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman also skated in 22 playoff games for North Bay, posting four goals and 10 points. Blujus led all North Bay defensemen for playoff goals, with three of his four tallies coming on the man-advantage. He helped guide the Battalion to the OHL Championships against the Guelph Storm.

The Buffalo, New York native has played in 256 career OHL games over four seasons with Brampton and North Bay, amassing 17 goals and 119 points. He recorded a career-best plus-12 rating in 2013-14.

World Championships Game Day: Day Twelve

Group A
Denmark 3 vs. Slovakia 4
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -5, 2 PIM

Jaroslav Janus, Slovakia, DNP
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .960 sv%

Richard Panik completed a scoreless Preliminary Round of the World Championships posting a -1 in 16:04 of ice time in Slovakia's 4-3 win over Denmark. Slovakia got a pair of goals by the Wings Tomas Tatar in the win. Slovakia misses the Quarterfinals Round by 1 point, finishing 5th behind the surprising squad from France in Group A. Canada, Sweden, and Czech Republic also advance out of the Group.

Group B
Germany 4 vs. USA 5
Tyler Johnson, USA, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 4-3-7, +1, 2 PIM

Calgary prospect Johnny Gaudreau had 1 goal and 4 points and was named the USA's best player in their 5-4 win over Germany. Detroit's Justin Abdelkader also had 2 goals for the US in the win. Tyler Johnson was 46% on draws in 22:46 in the match. The US finished in 2nd in Group B and advances to play Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals.

Latvia 2 vs. Switzerland 3
Kristers Gudlevskis, Latvia, Loss, 23/26, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-3-0, 0 SO, 3.79 GAA, .891 sv%

Switzerland got a goal from Devils forward Damien Brunner and a helper from former Lightning draft pick Luca Cunti in their 3-2 win over Latvia. Buffalo's Zemgus Girgensons had Latvia's only goal in defeat. Latvia finished 6th in Group B and will not advance to the Quarterfinals.

Russia 2 vs. Belarus 1
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +4, 14 PIM

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 19 shots and was named Russia's best player in their 2-1 win over Belarus. Dmitry Korobov chipped in a helper on a Third Period even strength goal and had a pair of minors for tripping in 16:40 for the Belarusians. Russia finishes tops in Group B and will face France in the Quarterfinals. Belarus finishes 3rd in Group B and will face Sweden in the Quartfinals Round. Finland was the fourth team to advance out of Group B and will face Canada in the Quarterfinals.

World Championships Game Day: Day Eleven

Group B
Latvia 1 vs. Belarus 3
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, +3, 10 PIM

Kristers Gudlevskis, Latvia, DNP
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-2-0, 0 SO, 4.02 GAA, .893 sv%

Dmitry Korobov assisted on Mikhail Grabovski's First Period goal in Belarus' 3-1 victory over Latvia. Korobov played 19:16 in the match. Kristers Gudlevkis sat backup to Edgars Masalskis for Latvia in defeat.

World Championships Game Day: Day Ten

Group B
USA 3 vs. Finland 1
Tyler Johnson, USA, 2-0-2, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 4-3-7, +2, 2 PIM

Tyler Johnson scored a pair of Third Period goals and was 45% on draws in 22:25 of ice time as USA knocked off Finland 3-1. Johnson was named USA's best player in the match. Johnson is currently tied for 9th in tournament scoring. Nashville's Seth Jones had a pair of helpers in the win for the US, as well.

Russia 3 vs. Germany 0
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, Win, SO, 27/27, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Andrei Vasilevskiy needed a masterful 27 save performance to help Russia stave off a spirited effort by Germany 3-0. It took 3 third period markers, including an empty netter by Viktor Tikhonov, for Russia to put the Germans away. The victory clinches the top spot in Group B for the Russians, but it may have come at a very high price. Team captain Alexander Ovechkin left the ice after 15:48 of ice time with what some observers deemed to likely be a catastrophic knee injury.

World Championships Game Day: Day Nine

Group A
Slovakia 4 vs. Italy 1
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-0-0, -4, 0 PIM

Jaroslav Janus, Slovakia, DNP
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 1.50 GAA, .960 sv%

Richard Panik's scoreless tournament continued in Slovakia's 4-1 win over Italy. Rising Red Wings star Tomas Tatar had 1 goal and 1 assist in the victory for the Slovaks. Their club is coached by former Lightning forward Vladimir Vujtek. Jaroslav Janus did not dress for the match.

Group B
Latvia 1 vs. Russia 4
Kristers Gudlevskis, Latvia, Loss, 39/43, 4.00 GAA, .907 sv%
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-2-0, 0 SO, 4.02 GAA, .893 sv%

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-0, 0 SO, .975 sv%

Ex-Coyotes first rounder Viktor Tikhonov continued his outstanding tournament with 2 goals and 3 points en route to being named the best player of the match as Russia toppled Latvia 4-1. Kristers Gudlevskis turned aside 39 shots in defeat. Andrei Vasilevskiy sat backup to Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 14 for the victory.

Belarus 5 vs. Germany 2
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 10 PIM

Dmitry Korobov had a minor for tripping in 18:20 in Belarus' 5-2 win over Germany. The Belarusian attack was paced by 2 goals and 3 points by NHLer Mikhail Grabovski.

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