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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.

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