TAMPA — The Lightning will not be issuing a qualifying offer to goaltender Anders Lindback, allowing the 26-year-old to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
In order to retain Lindback’s rights as a restricted free agent, the Lightning would have had to issue an offer equal to the $2.2 million salary he played for last season.
Lindback finished last season 8-12-2 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 23 games before posting an 0-3 record, 3.91 GAA and .881 save percentage in four playoff games.
But Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said the book on Lindback is not closed, and though the team intends to test the free agent market for a potential backup, Lindback remains a consideration.
With the Lightning lacking NHL experienced goaltenders on the depth chart heading into the summer, Yzerman said the team will likely be looking for an experienced goalie to back up starter Ben Bishop, who was a Vezina finalist last season after setting single-season franchise records in victories (37), goals-against average (2.23) and save percentage (.924).
Bishop, however, is coming off surgery to his right wrist and missed the end of the regular season and the playoffs after dislocating left elbow.
“We are going to look and see what is out there, but (Lindback) is on the list,’’ Yzerman said.
Lindback’s agent, Michael Deutsch, was unavailable for comment Saturday.
Yzerman said the team remains in conversations with pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Callahan on a new contract. Callahan is scheduled to be a free agent July 1.
“I’m hopeful that we can get him signed before he reaches free agency,’’ Yzerman said.
The Lightning will open the 2014-15 regular season Oct. 9 at home against the Florida Panthers. Tampa Bay also faced Florida in last season’s home opener.
The game will also feature the debut of new Florida head coach Gerard Gallant, who played 52 games for the Lightning from 1993-95.
Gallant, 50, was named Florida’s coach Saturday. Gallant served as head coach for Columbus from 2003-07 and was an assistant coach for Montreal the past two seasons.
The full 2014-15 season schedule is set to be released today at 4 p.m.
The Lightning have one remaining amnesty buyout option remaining, after using one on Vinny Lecavalier last season.
The amnesty buyout allows teams to use two buyouts without being penalized against the salary cap. Yzerman said they are still determining whether to use the second buyout option. The window to use the buyout closes June 30.
“It’s something to consider,’’ Yzerman said. “We haven’t come to any final decision on that. We know when the window closes, and if we choose to go that route, we have time.’’