This question is even more important after James Wisniewski skated a team-high 21:20 in the Lightning’s 3-2 loss to Carolina on Tuesday.
We’ve all read the common reasons for bringing in Wiz: He’s a veteran. He’d come cheap after numerous injuries, and he’s right-handed (aka a unicorn). Let’s dig a little deeper and consider a few more possibilities:
He would be a third righty on the blue line, giving Tampa Bay the ability to have a left and right shot on each pairing. Mike Babcock was a big proponent of this when coaching for Team Canada. Steve Yzerman won two gold medals as Executive Director of Team Canada in 2010 and 2014. Something tells me they may believe in similar philosophies.
You can move Jason Garrison without totally turning the blue line over to young guys. Perhaps this feeds into the veteran line of thinking, but it’s true. The Lightning absolutely need to move a contract to get Nikita Kucherov signed and Garrison seems the most likely to go. General Fanager lists him with a no-trade clause, but notes it may have been voided when he waived it to move from Vancouver to Tampa. His declining salary ($3.6 and $2.5 million this year and next, respectively, vs a $4.6 million cap hit) make him more attractive than Valtteri Filppula, who has a no-move clause as well.
He already has a fan club! This is really just a shoutout to LightningShout photographer Christine Gunn. We see you, Christine.
Last but not least…Wiz had his most productive NHL season (2013-14) in Columbus under new Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards. He was second on the team in points (51) that year behind Ryan Johansen. Is a return to the 40-50 point range so farfetched on a Lightning roster overflowing with offensive talent?
Let me know what you think. Is Wiz a potential gamebreaker, or is he better off leaving camp without a contract?