The Tampa Bay Lightning, and even myself personally, are still taking some criticism from people over the trades made on draft day. I am still of the opinion that this criticism is way off the mark. With the dust still settling from the moves made in Boston last month, they again juggled their personel. They sent Niklas Sundstrom, acquired in the draft day trades, and a 3rd round pick also acquired in the same deal, to the San Jose Sharks for four players.
The players coming to the Lightning in the deal are Billy Houlder, Shawn Burr, Andrei Zyuzin, and Steven Guolla. Houlder and Burr, both formerly with Tampa Bay, will add some needed character, experience, and depth. Guolla and Zyuzin add two more talented young players to the rebuilding Lightning.
Despite adding two veteran players in this deal, the Lightning still stuck to their formula of building the team back up with young talented players. Zyuzin is only 21 and has an enormous amount of skill. I see him as the player the Lightning thought Roman Hamrlik would be. He has all the tools to become an elite level defenceman in the NHL. He does come with some question marks in the form of his departure from the team last year for a couple of weeks. After much investigation in to this event, it was discovered that the reason for his walking out was the combination of coach Sutter’s constant berating of him and some bad advice from a shady agent. With a new agent and a new coach in Tampa, it is believed that Andrei can become the player everyone knows he can be. The word I get is that Sutter made it almost impossible for Zyuzin to play there. He took every opportunity to pick apart every move he made and chose to blame him for every bad play. This is not the first player to have the same situation arise with this coach.
This brings to Guolla. Apparently he had a similar problem with Sutter. After scoring 21 points in 43 games his rookie season, Steven was never a fixture with the Sharks. Despite putting up huge numbers with Kentucky in the AHL, he was rarely considered for call up by coach Sutter, and only played in 21 games the last two years. Sutter’s explanation for all of this was that he didnt like Guolla’s defensive play. He said he didn’t understand the defensive sid eof the game and couldn’t play at the NHL level without being a solid two way performer. I read an interview with Guolla where he was asked why he wasn’t playing for San Jose and his response was that apparently coach Sutter wanted to play “his” players and that he was the only person to ever critisize his defensive play. He felt that he was more than adequate in his own zone. Shawn Burr has been quoted here locally as saying that Guolla could be the steal of this trade.
Between the moves made on draft day and this trade, the Lightning have upgraded substantially. Playoffs are probably not int he cards this season but other teams in the league will have to take this team seriously. Defense, once their worst position has gotten much better with recent additions. They are young on the blue line and will make some mistakes , but they are also very talented. Houlder and Svoboda will keep the young guys in check while schooling them. Added to these two veterans are a talented young trio of Pavel Kubina, Andrei Zyuzin, and Sergei Gusev. This leaves 8 signed players who all played with in the NHL last year with Tampa Bay fighting for only 1 or 2 spots. This depth and competition should really strengthen the defence corp.