It may only be the beginning of January, but that’s no reason to put off thinking about the trade deadline. (It’s February 24th this season. Mark your calendars) Craig Custance of The Athletic [subscription required] kicked things off on Wednesday by posting the first NHL Trade Big Board of 2020. He quickly linked the Lightning to his number one player on the board - Chris Kreider.
The soon-to-be free agent forward would fit in with a Tampa system built on speed and skill, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the latest in a long line of players who have followed the snowbirds from Broadway to Bayshore. After all, would he crack the top six? If he doesn’t, would he be worth the price the Rangers would most likely be able to get (a first and a prospect)?
The Lightning do have some assets in the cupboard if they do want to be a player in latest round of the trade wars. They have all of their picks except for their fifth rounder, they may have an extra first round pick depending on what happens with Vancouver, an extra fourth rounder from Detroit, an extra sixth rounder from Ottawa, and their stable of smart, fast forward prospects. That’s a decent arsenal to deal from.
Does it make sense to spend that capital for Kreider only to bury him on the third line? Not really. Unless they suffer an injury to one of their top six forwards, they should only talk to the Rangers in order to drive up the price for one of their rivals.
So if not Kreider, than who? Will the Lightning be players at all over the next few months. Probably only on the periphery. Let’s face it, despite their early season wobbles, this is still a pretty loaded team. General manager Julien BriseBois did a pretty good job of addressing any possible weaknesses in the offseason when he brought in Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Maroon.
As Elliotte Friedman pointed out in his latest 31 Thoughts, most of the recent Stanley Cup winners have done their work in the summer, not at the deadline. Could the Lightning, much like the last few champions have, tinker a bit instead of pulling off a Ryan McDonagh/JT Miller blockbuster?
That seems to be the most likely course of action. Even with the addition of Shattenkirk and Luke Schenn, it wouldn’t be surprising if BriseBois looks to add another veteran blueliner to add a little more depth in the bottom pairing. Things are quite fine when everyone is healthy, but he only has to look back to last season to see how quickly things can go sideways.
Injuries to Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman led to Jan Rutta suiting up for all four games against the Blue Jackets and Cameron Gaunce as the other option. While Rutta wasn’t the reason the Lightning were swept, it wasn’t exactly ideal. BriseBois, if he can do it for a reasonable price, would like to avoid a similar situation.
As Freideman pointed out in his column, the 2017 Penguins made a couple of small deals for Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit (former Lightning) and they both paid off in the long run. If the Lightning make any type of move, expect it to be in that category.
When your team loses 9-2, it’s ok to present an alternative look at the game. A Vancouver recap that may not be based on our reality, but it’s still entertaining. [Nucks Misconduct]
A rough season continues to get rougher in San Jose. Their captain, Logan Couture, is out for up to six weeks after fracturing his ankle against on Tuesday in a game against the St. Louis Blues. [ESPN]
A young, pending RFA defenseman just signed a long-term contract. No, it wasn’t Mikhail Sergachev. It was Calgary Flames second-year blueliner Rasmus Andersson putting his signature to a deal that will pay him roughly $4.55 million a year for the next six seasons. He’s not a great comparison to Sergachev as he’s two years older and doesn’t put up the offensive numbers that Serg does, but it sets a lower limit of what a long term deal for the Lightning defenseman would look like. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]
He’s back. Mr. Game 7 is returning to the Carolina Hurricanes. Justin Williams officially re-signed with the Canes on Wednesday. It’s a one-year, incentive laden deal (base is $700K with a possible $1.3 million in incentives). Good for him. [Canes Country]
The All Star jerseys were released. Here’s the part where we all complain about them for 48 hours, forget about them until All Star Weekend, complain for another 24 hours, forget about them immediately after the weekend, and then contemplate buying one when they show up at a 50% discount in the middle of February. [KSDK]
Happy Birthday to you. If today is your special day, you share it with two former members of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Mathieu Garon - the veteran goaltender signed with the Lightning in the summer of 2011 and went on to lead the team with 23 wins as Dwayne Roloson wasn’t able to capture the magic he had the previous season. Garon played in 18 games the following season as he ceded playing time to Anders Lindback and youngster named Ben Bishop.
Jamie Huscroft - Another player who was only in the organization for parts of two seasons, Huscroft was your prototypical stay-at-home defenseman. In 57 games from 1997 to 1998 (he came in during the trade deadline of 1997 and left at the deadline of 1998) with the Lightning he only had 4 assists, but did manage to rack up 156 penalty minutes.