In March of 2014, the Tampa Bay Lightning traded franchise legend Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers. In return, the Lightning received Ryan Callahan and draft picks. A little over a year later, I wrote an article about how that trade was impacting the Lightning organization. Since then, the trade tree has evolved further as the draft picks have been used and players have progressed through the organization and some have left. After seven and a half years, let’s take a look at how the trade tree has continued to grow.
The Original Trade
On March 5th, 2014, Martin St. Louis was traded to the New York Rangers along with a 2015 conditional second round pick in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 2014 conditional first or second round pick, a 2015 first round pick, and a 2015 conditional seventh round pick. The 2015 second rounder to the Rangers and the 2015 seventh round pick to the Lightning were conditioned on Ryan Callahan re-signing with the Lightning, in which case the picks would be swapped. The 2014 conditional pick was for a second round pick that would upgrade to a first round pick if the Rangers made it to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. Both conditions were met.
Ryan Callahan Branch
Ryan Callahan came over to the Lightning on an expiring contract. He was re-signed to a six year extension. Injury issues derailed his career in the latter half of the contract and he ended up spending the last year of his deal on Long Term Injured Reserve with the Ottawa Senators. In that trade to the Senators, the Lightning gave up a 2020 fifth round pick, but got back Mike Condon and a 2020 sixth round pick.
Condon was injured for much of the 2019-20 season, playing six games for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, four games for the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL, and one game for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL on loan. He retired and is currently the goaltending coach for Northeastern University in NCAA hockey.
The 2020 sixth round pick was used to select a power forward, Nick Capone. Capone is now in his second year of playing NCAA hockey with the University of Connecticut.
2014 First Round Pick Branch
The 2014 first round pick that the Lightning received from the Rangers was 28th overall. The Lightning traded down out of the spot with the New York Islanders to gain two second round picks while the Islanders took Josh Ho-Sang.
The first of the two second round picks was used on Dominik Masin, a physical defenseman out of the OHL. Masin played four seasons in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch before leaving to play in the KHL in 2020-21. He started this season in the KHL, but has since moved on to the Finnish Liiga. The Lightning still control his rights as they issued him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, but he chose to sign in Europe instead. As long as the team extends him another qualifying offer, they will retain his rights for one more season before he is an unrestricted free agent. It seems unlikely that he’ll come back to North America as he hasn’t taken a big leap in Europe.
The other second round pick was used on another defenseman, John MacLeod. MacLeod was selected as a defenseman with size, but not much skill. The Lightning obviously hoped he’d come around in NCAA hockey playing for Boston University. The offense never came though and when he was finished with his collegiate career, the Lightning did not sign him to a professional contract. He spent one season playing in the ECHL in 2018-19 and then retired from hockey.
With both of these picks, it was obvious that the Lightning were looking to improve the defensive corps of their prospect pool. They picked two defensemen with size that played a physical game. Neither of them were high skill defensemen though and that skill never developed enough for them to make the leap to the NHL level.
The Lightning could have picked a few different NHLers that went between the 28th overall pick and the pick they used on Masin, but the most interesting one is Adrian Kempe who has 138 points in 323 career games. The Lightning also could have picked a couple of different defensemen instead of Masin that have made an impact in the NHL in Marcus Pettersson or Brandon Montour, but they are the most significant skaters picked between Masin and MacLeod. I specifically mention skaters because there are three goaltenders that have emerged over the past few seasons picked in the second round after Masin in Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Vitek Vanecek.
2015 First Round Pick Branch
This is where things get much more interesting. Once again, the Lightning had the 28th overall pick in the first round from the Rangers. Once again, the Lightning traded the pick to the New York Islanders who used it to select Anthony Beauvillier. Instead of two second round picks, the Lightning got a second and third round pick. The second round pick was a couple of spots higher than the Masin pick received at the previous draft.
With the second round pick, the Lightning selected Mitchell Stephens. At the time of his draft, he was compared to Ryan Callahan in terms of his style of play. It was also speculated that he would have to move to the wing like Callahan and wouldn’t be able to stick at center. Through in OHL and AHL career though, he showed that he had the defensive acumen and the faceoff skills to stick at center as a professional. Unfortunately, the timing of his making it to the NHL and an untimely injury seemed to have soured the Lightning on him when he finally made it to the NHL. Stephens played parts of the last two seasons with the Lightning in the NHL, but was traded this offseason to the Detroit Red Wings to make room for a veteran signings and upcoming prospects. The Lightning received a 2022 sixth round pick and haven’t done anything with the pick yet.
The third round pick ended up being the more significant pick-up for the Lightning as they used the 72nd overall pick to select Anthony Cirelli. Cirelli was a projection pick by the Lightning scouts. He was on a loaded OHL team that was coming off of an OHL Championship and a Memorial Cup win where Cirelli scored the winning goal. He was down the line-up and only recorded 36 points in 68 games, which is an amount of scoring in a draft year that can make an OHLer undrafted. The Lightning saw past just the raw numbers to the player and he rewarded them by being a point per game player the rest of the way in his OHL career. Cirelli is now in his fourth full season with the Lightning and has turned into a solid two-way second line center.
As it stands, Cirelli has a little more than 100 less games in the NHL than Anthony Beauvillier, but only has about 35 less career points than him. So the Lightning already look alright in having made the decision to trade down. The only big, star player that the Lightning missed out in potentially selecting was Sebastian Aho who went two picks after Stephens. The Lightning also missed out on picking Brandon Carlo or Erik Cernak with the second round pick. The Lightning actually had two picks, a second and third round pick, in between the Stephens and Cirelli pick, but missed on both with defenseman Matthew Spencer and forward Dennis Yan.
2015 Seventh Round Pick Branch
This one is quick, but there’s a fun little twist to it. At the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Lightning traded two fifth round picks for a 2014 fourth round pick. With that pick the Lightning selected Ben Thomas. One of those fifth round picks was used by the Rangers to select Daniel Walcott. A year later, the Rangers had not signed Walcott to an entry level contract, so the Lightning sent the seventh round pick they had acquired back to the Rangers for Walcott’s rights and signed him. In the end, it makes the Ben Thomas trade into a 2014 4th round pick acquired for a 2014 fifth round pick and 2015 seventh round pick.
Walcott has remained with the organization since being signed. He’s now a veteran and a leader in the locker room for the Syracuse Crunch after switching from defense to forward. Walcott was rewarded for his time in the organization at the end of the 2020-21 season with a call-up where he played on the first entirely black forward line in the NHL alongside Mathieu Joseph and Gemel Smith.