If you haven't already done so, mark your calendars ladies and gentlemen. February 27th, at 3 P.M. EST is the date and time of the NHL trade deadline. This date, annually, serves as the last fuel-stop for NHL teams on the race to the post-season. Some bow out, restocking their franchises with prospects and draft picks while navigating toward next season. Others bring on what they hope will be the final pieces of the puzzle to put their team into a stronger position for a final sprint to the Stanley Cup.
That brings us back to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit nine points behind the division leading Florida Panthers. Nine points are also what separates Tampa Bay from the #8 seeded New Jersey Devils. The current five-game win streak has breathed new life into the Lightning season, but should it dictate what the Bolts do as the deadline approaches?
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is keeping all options on the table, according to Erik Erlendsson at the Tampa Tribune (reporting via Twitter):
Spoke to Steve Yzerman, said he's prepared to be buyer or seller at trade deadline, depending on how next handful of games transpire
Less than three weeks ago, it seemed like the Bolts had nothing to do but place a "For Sale" sign in the front yard, sticking the likes of Dominic Moore, Steve Downie, Pavel Kubina and Ryan Malone on a sales table and seeing what bargain hunters were going to offer. Now? Now the future looks a little more hazy. And I mean that in a good way from the fan perspective, but it's an odd boggle for a General Manager to deal with.
Rumors of Dominic Moore being sought after are out there, and the same goes for Ryan Malone (who has been subject of trade rumors for quite some time). Pierre LeBrun reported that Moore's camp has actually been approached by the Lightning regarding a contract extension. Never the less, don't expect either player's name to disappear from those trade musings until the deadline comes and goes.
Yzerman has to listen to everything right now, sales pitches from the buyers and keeping his ears open for what's available among the sellers. There will be no shame, however, if Steve decides to stand pat and wait for the off-season to make key major player moves.