The winds of trade season pick up with Tampa Bay Lightning rumors

With a glut of depth, it looks like the Bolts are trying to create roster space in moving two vets who have seen little playing time this season.

The rumors started creeping in through a report by the Ottawa Sun... But their reputation on rumors isn't that reliable and should always be taken with caution and a heavy helping of salt.

But when a standard bearer for hockey coverage, a cream of the crop voice like Bob McKenzie of TSN speaks the news or mentions the rumors, it's much more legitimate and should be heeded.

I'm making a big deal about this, but the players on the roster this involves will not excite you or agitate you as much as they could. The Ottawa Sun and now McKenzie have reported that the Tampa Bay Lightning are shopping forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Keith Aulie.

Here's the exact paragraph from McKenzie's report today, which shows how Bruce found out about things:

McKenzie: Rutherford sent a league-wide email saying Ruutu is available, as well as Jiri Tlusty, Riley Nash, Drayson Bowman and Brett Bellemore. The Canucks did the same thing with Dale Weise and the Tampa Bay Lightning did the same thing with Keith Aulie and Tom Pyatt.

I don't think it's necessary to even speculate why this would happen; both players are eating roster spots in Tampa that others would sooner occupy. Case in point, Thursday night's demotion of Andrej Sustr to Syracuse. This wasn't a move made because Sustr wasn't playing well, it was made out of necessity because Aulie was ready to return and a roster spot was needed. Pyatt can be seen as the same case, because his roster spot would sooner be occupied by (when cleared to play) Steven Stamkos.

Aulie was acquired in the spring of 2012 from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward-prospect Carter Ashton. In hindsight, the move to acquire the young, big and physical defenseman can be looked at as a stop-gap acquisition that bought the franchise time for development in hard-hitting Radko Gudas and Mark Barberio, who were then central figures to the 2012 Norfolk Admirals team. Aulie having injury issues this season (and a crowded defensive rotation) has only played 6 games for the Lightning in 2013-14. He's played 70 games in total for the Lightning since his acquisition, scoring 2 goals and 8 assists in that span, with 73 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-7 (he's minus-3 this season).

Pyatt was signed as a free agent in the summer of 2011 by the Lightning as one of a few signings seen as an attempt to make up for the loss of Sean Bergenheim to free agency. He has 20 goals and 16 assists in 124 games with the Lightning over three seasons. He's only seen scant playing time this year, with thanks to breaking his collarbone in the third game of the season, which knocked him out until December.

If general manager Steve Yzerman can find a taker for either Aulie or Pyatt (or both), expect any acquisitions either to be AHL depth or late round draft picks. If no takers can be found, you can't guarantee either player will be subjected to waivers; there are members of the Lightning rookie class such as J.T. Brown who still have options to be sent back to Syracuse (in the case of Pyatt) while Aulie will play when he can.