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Looking back on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2017 trade deadline

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The Lightning were pretty much out of it in 2016-17, and Steve Yzerman decided to make some deals.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

During the 2016-17 NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost captain Steven Stamkos early in the season to a torn meniscus. Nikita Kucherov had a huge breakout season eventually scoring 40 goals and 85 points in 74 games. Victor Hedman had a monster season putting up 72 points. Jonathan Drouin finally started to find his NHL game scoring 21 goals and 53 points. And Brayden Point was putting in a nice rookie season with 18 goals and 40 points.

But the Lightning had a TON of injuries. Not a single player appeared in every game of the season. Alex Killorn had the most with 81 games followed by Andrej Sustr and Braydon Coburn with 80 games and Hedman with 79. Point, Tyler Johnson, and Cedric Paquette all ended up under 70 games because of injuries. The Lightning played a total of 24 different forwards and nine different defensemen over the course of the season. They also played four different goaltenders during the season and also had a fifth goaltender that was only a back-up.

The team went on a bad losing streak in January that pretty well sunk the season. The team was 19-15-4 through the end of December. In January, the team went 3-8-2 and were near the bottom of the league. The team started to rebound in February though when Brayden Point returned from injury. They went on quite a run down the stretch and ended up missing the playoffs by just one point.

Before they got to that point though of being back in the playoff race, it wasn’t looking very good as the trade deadline approached. With the outlook for the team looking less than spectacular for the rest of the season, Steve Yzerman did the best thing possible in selling assets. He didn’t give up the future of the team, knowing he still had an incredible core. Instead, he decided to capitalize on his expiring assets to bolster the team for the future.

So let’s take a look at that trade deadline and what came out of the moves that Yzerman made for the Lightning.

Ben Bishop Trade

Lightning Trade to Los Angeles Kings: Ben Bishop, 2017 fifth round draft pick.

Lightning Receive from Los Angeles Kings: Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak, 2017 seventh round pick, 2017 conditional pick

The Ben Bishop trade market never really materialized the way that we expected it. The teams that could really use an upgrade in net ended up faltering on their way down the stretch and were already looking at not making the playoffs, even with the upgrade. The Kings stepped in though with a trade due to their starting goaltender Jonathan Quick being out with injury.

The conditional pick was very complicated and required lawyers to get involved to untangle the intention of the general managers and put it into a logical form. The pick was reported to be as high as a second round pick and as low as nothing. The Kings didn’t make the playoffs, which presumably was one of the requirements for the conditional pick, and so the Lightning received nothing from it.

In Budaj, the Lightning picked up a back-up for Andrei Vasilevskiy after the departure of Bishop for the rest of the season. Budaj was re-signed for two years following the season to continue as Vasilevskiy’s back-up. He backed him up for half a season before an injury and was replaced by Louis Domingue. Budaj was traded back to the Kings last summer.

Erik Cernak at the time was felt to be something of a throw-in in the trade. He was a stagnated asset for the Kings, but since coming over to the Lightning organization has really blossomed. We’ve seen him come into the line-up this year in place of the injured Anton Stralman. He has looked great and is nearly a lock to make the Lightning roster full time next season as Stralman and Dan Girardi are unrestricted free agents.

The seventh round pick the Lightning received will be used in a trade coming up later.

Waiver Maneuvering and Syracuse Crunch trades

Lightning trade Jeremy Morin for Stefan Fournier

This trade was due to the Syracuse Crunch having too many veterans on the team. They could not dress every one they wanted to. Morin was the odd man out and was replaced by Fournier on the roster as he did not have enough games played professional to meet the veteran threshold.

Lightning acquire Greg McKegg from Florida Panthers on waivers

Lightning waive Gabriel Dumont and re-assign him to the Syracuse Crunch

These two moves were connected. The team wanted to send Dumont back to the Syracuse Crunch prior to the trade deadline so he could help the Crunch down the stretch in their push for the playoffs. McKegg gave the Lightning a body that could fill in the gaps on the roster after Yzerman made a trade later in the day and another trade a couple days later.

Lightning trade Adam Wilcox to the Florida Panthers for Mike McKenna

Wilcox had been a sixth round pick of the Lightning in 2011. He played NCAA hockey for three years with the University of Minnesota before turning professional. He was not developing very well in the AHL and hadn’t posted a save percentage over .900 in his first two seasons. McKenna came in to solidify the situation in net for the Crunch with Kristers Gudlevskis also struggling.

Brian Boyle Trade

Lightning trade to Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Boyle

Lightning acquire from Toronto Maple Leafs: Byron Froese, 2017 second round pick.

Boyle was a pending unrestricted free agent. Reports at the time said that the Lightning were trying to send Valtteri Filppula to the Maple Leafs, but he vetoed the trade as they were on his no trade list. Froese was in the AHL and was able to go straight to the Syracuse Crunch to bolster the team’s forward group. The 2017 second round pick ended up being a 48th overall pick and the Lightning used it on Alexander Volkov. At the time of the pick, many felt Volkov was a severe overreach of a pick. Now, those same people that panned the pick are now calling Volkov a potential top-six scoring forward.

Valtteri Filppula Trade

Lightning trade to Philadelphia Flyers: Valtteri Filppula, 2017 fourth round pick, 2017 conditional seventh round pick.

Lightning acquire from Philadelphia Flyers: Mark Streit, some salary retained

Lightning trade to Pittsburgh Penguins: Mark Streit, some salary retained

Lightning acquire from Pittsburgh Penguins: 2018 fourth round pick

At first when the Flippula trade was announced, I looked at it as maybe Yzerman was still hoping to make a push to the playoffs. Streit was an old defenseman, but he still had some offense left in his game and he could have potentially bolstered the blue line. But 30 minutes later, he was on his way to Pittsburgh. The salary retained on Streit by the Flyers was to keep the cap hit the same between Streit and Filppula for the Lightning. The Lightning then turned around and retained almost half of Streit’s salary for the rest of the year when trading him to the Penguins so they could fit him under the cap.

Ultimately for the Lightning, this trade cost them basically nothing other than the money spent on retained salary. The 2017 conditional pick to the Flyers was conditioned on the Lightning trading Streit, which they did. The seventh round pick was acquired in the Ben Bishop trade from the Kings. The real gain for the Lightning was getting out of the last year of Filppula’s contract with a $5 million cap hit. The only other cost for the Lightning was changing their 2017 fourth round pick into a 2018 fourth round pick. The Lightning would also eventually trade the fourth round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for expansion draft considerations.

Takeaways

Ultimately, the Lightning gave up Bishop, Boyle, and Filppula, and a fifth round pick to acquire Cernak and Volkov and get part of the price to have the Golden Knights take Jason Garrison instead of Slater Koekkoek or Jake Dotchin. Yzerman didn’t really fleece anyone at this trade deadline. But he did get some nice future pieces and out of the last year of Filppula’s contract. He made the most out of his expiring assets while the trade market was a little bit soft, especially for Ben Bishop.