After a set of trades that sent forward Teddy Purcell to the Edmonton Oilers, forwards Sam Gagner and B.J. Crombeen to Arizona, and Nate Thompson to Anaheim, the Tampa Bay Lightning have cleared $6 million extra in salary cap space, leaving them with about $11 million to sign unrestricted free agents.

Most fans were critical this past season of the Bolts' play on defense, and you can imagine General Manager Steve Yzerman will look to make a splash back at the blue line.

Here's a look at some of the names Yzerman could be looking at when free agency opens Tuesday.


Photo: Getty Images

Dan Boyle (New York Islanders, 12-24-36, -8, 32 PIM, 21:17 ATOI) - A
name Lightning fans are very familiar with, and probably the player that initially made them see just what sort of ownership group Oren Koules and Len Barrie were going to be.  In six full seasons with the San Jose Sharks since leaving the Lightning, he has played in at least 75 games in a season five times.  However, his offensive numbers have dropped significantly (only 37 assists the last two years combined after averaging 41 per year over the previous four seasons).  That, coupled with the fact that Boyle is going to be 38 in a couple of weeks is enough to give the Lightning GM pause, though if Boyle is willing to take a significant pay cut from last season, he could be a short-term remedy.

 


Photo: Getty Images

Kyle Quincey (Detroit Red Wings, 4-9-13, -5, 88 PIM, 20:48 ATOI) - Quincey is probably one player that has been on Yzerman's radar since the end of Tampa Bay's playoff run.  Like last year's big signing, Valteri Filppula, Quincey is a guy Yzerman has known from his time in Detroit's front office.  He's relatively young (Quincey turns 29 on August 12), and coming off his first season playing in all 82 games despite moving from the Red Wings as a 20-year-old, to the Los Angeles Kings, to the Colorado Avalanche, back to the Red Wings.  He made $3.775 million last year, so Yzerman could likely sign him and still make a significant run at other names as well.

 


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Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh Penguins, 10-36-46, +33, 51 PIM, 21:18 ATOI) - USA Today's Kevin Allen named Niskanen his top unrestricted free agent this offseason, as the 27-year-old is coming off career-highs in goals, assists, points, and plus/minus.  He's not a skyscraper by any means (just six feet tall), but has a very good right-handed shot, though that shot will likely come at a premium since he has just reached his free agency period.  I'd expect the Penguins to make his re-signing top priority.

 


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Anton Stralman (New York Rangers, 1-12-13, +9, 26 PIM, 19:24 ATOI) - Stralman's solid play in the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup Finals did him a world of good going in to free agency.  However, the 28-year-old Swede is small compared to some of the others on this list (just 5'10" and 190 pounds).  He may not get any taller, but could put another 10 to 15 pounds of muscle on his frame and turn out to be an excellent blue line defender.

 


Photo: Getty Images 

Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles Kings, 1-11-12, +14, 58 PIM, 20:20 ATOI) - Another guy whose run through the playoff did nothing but help.  Mitchell nearly equaled his regular season plus/minus total in the Kings' march to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.  However, Mitchell is also getting up there in age (he turned 37 in April).  You can't consider Mitchell more than another short-term possibility at the right price.