It's hard to believe how far the Tampa Bay Lightning have fallen just a season after taking the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. But here we are, 25 days before the NHL Trade Deadline 2012, and general manager Steve Yzerman still doesn't know if his team will be buyers or sellers.
Via the Tampa Bay Times, Yzerman says the next few games will have a large impact on how the team views the remainder of their season:
"Depending on how many points we get out of it and we see what else happens around the league, we'll get a better indication," he said Thursday.
The league, Yzerman said, is in a feeling-out pattern as teams wait to see which will make playoff runs (buyers) and which won't (sellers).
The Lightning are in an interesting position. They're at least a full seven points behind eighth place Toronto, should they take care of their game in hand, entering Friday's NHL action, but by virtue of their position in the Southeast Division, they're just eight points behind third place in the Eastern Conference. Florida currently holds that spot with 57 points, just ahead of Washington with 56 and Winnipeg with 54.
Tampa Bay would have to play really well down the stretch to jump up into playoff positioning, but considering they have plenty of divisional games left, Yzerman isn't crazy to be thinking about buying at the deadline.
For more on the Bolts, check in with Lightning blog Raw Charge.