The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the re-signing of defenseman Braydon Coburn. The contract is for two years with a cap hit of $1.7 million. Originally a first round pick in 2003 by the Atlanta Thrashers, the 34 year-old Coburn joined the Lightning at the 2015 trade deadline from the Philadelphia Flyers.
A message from the Coburns! pic.twitter.com/KtsxbximZw— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 18, 2019
The cost for him was a first- and third-round pick and defenseman Radko Gudas. I should also note there was a semi-connected deal made at the same time sending Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins for two second-round picks that helped even out the picks in the trade. When he was acquired, Coburn had the rest of the 2014-15 season and the 2015-16 season left on his contract.
With a few months left in the 2015-16 season, Coburn was re-signed to a three-year contract extension that was set to expire this summer. This new contract will keep Coburn in Tampa Bay for another two seasons where he has been a solid contributor on the third pair. Prior to coming to the Lightning, Coburn was primarily a top-four defenseman for the Flyers, averaging 21:57 TOI over nine seasons. Since coming to Tampa, he has averaged just 16:26 TOI. His ice time has been consistent over his four seasons with the Lightning and giving him a reduced role has allowed him to continue to be an effective defender as he’s aged.
Known more for his stay at home defensive style, Coburn had one of his best offensive seasons in years in 2018-19 with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 74 games. It was his first time scoring over 20 points since he had 24 points during the 2011-12 season. He has two other seasons where he scored more with 36 points and 28 points in 2007-08 and 2008-09 respectively.
From an advanced statistics point of view, Coburn has been one of the Lightning’s better blueliners in defensive metrics. His offensive metrics have often lagged behind though which has kept his percentages looking more pedestrian. Pairing him with Mikhail Sergachev has opened up his game and given him a partner that can help stretch the ice and provide that offensive spark. On the other end, Coburn has proven to be a reliable partner for Sergachev that allows Sergachev to get up into the play while covering for him defensively.
My analysis of the contract that Coburn has signed is that it’s a very good value. Evolving-Wild’s contract projections had him projected to a two year contract for $2.1 million. When I have been projecting out potential salary cap situations with re-signing Coburn, I had him penciled in for a $2 million, two-year contract. The savings aren’t huge, but it’s still good to see the cap hit come in under what was expected. One question still out there on the contract that we should find out soon is if it includes No Trade Clause or No Move Clause. The team did not announce if the contract includes one, though it’s reasonable to assume that there is at least a Modified No Trade Clause included.
With Coburn being 34 years old, there’s some risk that he’s going to fall off the cliff or injury issues will start to be more of a problem. With a two-year deal at a fairly low cap hit though, the risk is fairly minimal. With that said, Coburn has been reasonably healthy throughout his career. He missed a couple months of the 2014-15 season with a broken foot, but other than that, the most games he has missed in a season since becoming a full time NHLer was 10 games in 2017-18. He played 74 games in 2018-19, but that was partly due to the Lightning’s rotation of healthy scratches on the blue line. He has played at least 80 games in a season seven times out of 11 full length seasons.
Clarity on the blue line
With this signing, we have a little more clarity on the Lightning’s blue line situation. The team now has Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Erik Cernak, Jan Rutta, Sergachev, and Coburn under contract. The Lightning could certainly look for another right-handed defenseman to round out the top six with Rutta serving as the team’s seventh defenseman. Or if the Lightning feel comfortable with Sergachev moving up to play with Hedman and Rutta playing with Coburn on the third pair, the team would only need to add another low cost veteran to serve as the seventh defender on the roster.
Internally, the Lightning could look to Cal Foote to be the other right handed defensive option. Pairing him with Hedman while giving some of his shifts to Cernak, Sergachev, and Coburn would help to keep Foote’s ice time down as he is introduced to the league. Anton Stralman, a unrestricted free agent, would also have to be viewed as a candidate to return on a short term deal like Coburn.
With the Tampa Bay #Lightning re-signing pending UFA Braydon Coburn to a 2 year, $1.7M/year contract, the club now has $6,876,669 in projected cap space with a roster of 18 (10F 6D 2G)— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) June 18, 2019
Anton Strålmanhttps://t.co/qIBiAOS50x pic.twitter.com/gutBLPSWig
The Lightning still have some work to do with just under $7 million in projected cap space. The team has Brayden Point to sign to a big contract. They also must deal with smaller RFA contracts for Adam Erne, Cedric Paquette, and Danick Martel, though none of them will be busting the bank. The Lightning will have to deal with Ryan Callahan and his $5.8 million cap hit and the team is exploring trade options for the right winger.
If the team cannot trade Callahan, then they will need to buy him out before the end of the buy-out period which ends June 30th. J.T. Miller could also end up on the trading block if the Lightning need to find more salary cap space for Point’s contract and another addition in free agency.