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Lightning prepare for Free Agency Written by Laci Bloomers - November 30th, -0001

Free Agency opened in the CMHL today, and it appears that the Tampa Bay Lightning may be little more than avid observers.

While the club does not have a lot of needs, it certainly seems they would like to pick up a goaltender to back up Tim Thomas this coming season.

GM Dave Normoyle was pretty quiet today about the Lightning's approach for his first CMHL Free Agency period, but this reporter knows that he has always been active in the past.  That may be about to change if one listens to the Bolts' General Manager.

"The Lightning will definately talk to the Player Agents around and kick some tires, " Normoyle did say, "however given the limited Cap space and the fact that we do not really know how other GMs will react when sending offers, we do not anticiapte being much of a player."

When pushed about his goaltending situation, Normoyle replied "We have what we believe will be one of the best starting goaltenders in the league in Tim Thomas.  Tim is hungry to prove he can do the job at this level, and we have every confidence that he can.  We have made an offer to David LeNeveu's agent and will see where that goes.  We have also picked up Matt Keetley within the past week or so, and between LeNeveu and Keetley we feel we will have a suitable back-up for Thomas.  Young goaltenders seem to excel in this day and age, just llok at the Sabres and Carey Price as a prime example."

Normoyle did indicate that he has looked at a couple of the goaltenders available, and might consider a veteran like Kevin Weekes as an alternate solution for the coming season.  "Only if the price is right" noted Normoyle.

While the team has been shopping for another winger for the starting lineup, Normoyle was also pretty quiet about that.  "Given the quality of player available, and the anticipated price tags accompanying most of the veteran wingers, we would be better off playing guys from within our ranks than overpaying for a veteran top do the same job," he remarked.  "There are only a couple of marquee forwards, and quite frankly they are out of our snack bracket.  Our system has some young players ready to make the jump in some capacity, and we expect to see guys like Stortini, Avery, Nystrom, Andrew Murray - these guys should make a push for regular ice time this season."

While keeping a low profile will be a different approach than I have seen from Normoyle in the past several years as a GM, the club may indeed have the young depth to draw from within, similar to the path that other teams in the CMHL have taken.

The Organization also made some moves on the eve of Free Agency, as they bought out three players slated to play in Macon this coming season.  Marc Chouinard, acquired from Columbus just before the trade deadline, Martin Latal and Oleg Tverdovsky all had their contracts bought out and are no longer in the Lightning's plans.

- Laci Bloomers reporting -

 

 

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