The blockbuster that is Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens has cemented its place atop the list of biggest blockbusters of the 2015-16 NHL season. With everything else swirling around on the blockbuster front, there is still room to add to that list. The question has come up: Could the Lightning be a part of such a blockbuster? Most of what's out there has been speculation and I'm going to add to that whirlwind of trade-chatter with a potential blockbuster that could be seen going down, potentially.
For most of the past month, the Lightning has been linked with the St. Louis Blues on a potential trade. General Manager Steve Yzerman and Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel Pat Verbeek have been spotted scouting the Blues with Yzerman being in person at least twice. Other scouts have also been reported in the building during Blues games (though I wouldn't read quite as much in to that as NHL scouts are constantly on the move). I've already written some words speculating on a possible trade between the two teams. Using that as a base to start from, I think there's a potential for a blockbuster trade to go down.
Jonathan Drouin trade buzz has been off the charts among the media since his trade request become public. Knowing now that the request had been made back in November, it suggests that the early smoke around St. Louis could have involved some discussions surrounding Drouin. At the very least, whatever discussions were being had, even if a hockey move for a couple veterans, have probably shifted toward including Drouin in a trade. And St. Louis has been another of the teams heavily linked to Drouin. So here's the trade I have to offer up.
Tampa Bay sends Jonathan Drouin and Valtteri Filppula to St. Louis for Robby Fabbri and Kevin Shattenkirk.
The rationale behind trading Drouin has already been laid out ad nauseam elsewhere so I won't dig too deep into that here. Suffice to say though, he's a high end talent as evidenced by being selected 3rd overall in the 2013 draft. The Blues would be getting a top-6 left winger that they could reasonably place opposite Vladimir Tarasenko to further increase his production above it's already elite level in much the same way Drouin was envisioned doing for Steven Stamkos.
Filppula has steadily declined in play since the first year of his contract, but still has value as a defensive minded two-way playmaker. His offensive skills are not as good as they once were, but he's responsible and still has value. He has two years left on his contract at a $5 million salary cap hit. With the emergence of Vladislav Namestnikov, Filppula is slowly being pushed out of the lineup. He's best suited for the third line and with Namestnikov taking over for him on the first line and Cedric Paquette more than capable on the third line, Filppula has become expendable. In the case of the Blues, they have a number of forwards becoming unrestricted free agents this summer. That includes David Backes, one of their current top two centers, and top-6 winger Troy Brouwer. This would leave them with Paul Stastny, Filppula, and Jori Lehtera to fill in their top three center spots next season and reduces their free agent needs by one.
Moving on to what would be received by Tampa Bay in a deal, Robby Fabbri is another small forward listed at 5'10" and 170 pounds. He's another left winger and while not as prolific as Drouin during his career in juniors, he's been more potent as a goal scorer at the NHL level during his rookie season: he has 10 goals and 5 assists in 41 games as a 19 year old while playing just over 13 minutes per game. He's had positive possession and goals-for numbers at 5v5 and is ranked in the top half of the Blues' forwards in most significant advanced stat categories. While Fabbri's not as high-end in skill as Drouin, he still has a lot of potential; he was drafted 21st overall in 2014. Drouin is an upgrade for the Blues over Fabbri in the long-term.
In Kevin Shattenkirk, the Bolts would get a solid top-4 right handed defenseman. His 26 points would instantly put him at third on the Lightning roster in scoring and first among blueliners. A lot of his production does come from the power play and he would be an upgrade on the first unit over Anton Stralman. Shattenkirk is a solid passer with a great shot; he would be a threat with the puck at the top of the power play. It would also shift Andrej Sustr back into a third pairing role next to Braydon Coburn and push Matt Carle and Nikita Nesterov to the press box, with Nesterov likely sent back to Syracuse to continue playing. Additionally, Shattenkirk is under contract for another season at a very reasonable $4.25 million salary cap hit and would bridge the time it takes Anthony DeAngelo to settle in to the NHL and take over his role.
The original speculation suggested that the trade would be a hockey move of a veteran going in either direction possibly with a pick thrown in to even up the value. With Shattenkirk being more valuable than Filppula, it's reasonable to think that the added pick would have come from the Lightning. When comparing Drouin and Fabbri, Drouin should have more value, but a deal could be worked to even out the value there. By mashing these two potential deals into one blockbuster trade, the teams would be evening out the value difference between the two trades.
Are you in favor of making this trade or not? Feel free to discuss further in the comments!