TAMPA — After burning the midnight oil, Steve Yzerman and Co. now wait for high noon to strike.
The free agent market is officially open for business at noon Tuesday for teams to begin signing players to contracts.
And judging from the wheeling and dealing Yzerman did late Sunday night in trading away Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson and B.J. Crombeen to free salary cap space, the Tampa Bay Lightning intend to be major players.
Tampa Bay cleared $7.25 million in salary cap space by dealing Purcell to Edmonton for Sam Gagner, flipping Gagner along with Crombeen to Arizona for a sixth-round draft pick, and sending Thompson to Anaheim for a fourth and a seventh in 2015.
By retaining one-third of Gagner’s $4.8 salary cap hit, however, the Lightning will carry $1.6 million against the cap for the next two seasons, which offers a net cap savings of $5.65 million heading into free agency. Those moves give Tampa Bay approximately $9.5 million in cap space, which currently includes the $3.6 million cap number carried by Mattias Ohlund, who will presumably be placed on long-term injury status in October to bring the available cap space at Yzerman’s disposal to roughly $13.1 million.
“We’ll look, and just because we have cap space and cash available, we are not going to act out of desperation, but we will ask and inquire if there is anything that makes us better,’’ Yzerman said.
Even after acquiring defenseman Jason Garrison from Vancouver on Friday, the Lightning will be on the lookout for a defenseman, a backup goaltender and perhaps a center, Yzerman revealed Monday.
On defense, the Lightning would like to add a right-handed blue liner to balance out the top six. Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen and Anton Stralman are the biggest names on the market who play the right side. Christian Ehroff, who was bought out by Buffalo on Sunday, is also a possibility, though he shoots left-handed.
Potential goaltenders include Thomas Greiss, Al Montoya, Justin Peters and Martin Brodeur. And if Tampa Bay is looking for a lower-line center, it could consider Brian Boyle, Manny Malhotra, Steve Ott or possibly Brad Richards, though that is considered a long shot.
If the players they target in free agency fall through, the added cap space allows for flexibility in the trade market to fill the team’s holes.
Restricted free agents: Tampa Bay announced which players received qualifying offers ahead of free agency to ensure the Lightning retain their rights as restricted free agents.
Those who received offers are wingers Brett Connolly, Richard Panik and Philippe Paradis, defensemen Andrej Sustr and Dmitry Korobov and center Cody Kunyk.
The Lightning did not extend a qualifying offer to goaltender Anders Lindback, defensemen Keith Aulie and Charles Landry and winger Geoff Walker, and they all become unrestricted free agents.
Cap carryover: The available cap space for this season includes a bonus coverage of $231,000 from games-played bonuses reached by Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Nikita Kucherov in 2013-14 that carries over into the salary cap this season.