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Lightning trade Alexander Volkov to Anaheim

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Time for a change of scenery for the young forward

NHL: FEB 20 Lightning at Hurricanes Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Late Tuesday night, reports surfaced on social media that the Tampa Bay Lightning were engaged in talks with the Anaheim Ducks to trade Alexander Volkov for an unspecified prospect and draft pick:

Friedman’s report has been confirmed by The Athletic’s Joe Smith.

Volkov was a somewhat surprising second round pick by the Lightning back in the 2017 draft. Not much was known about the big right-winger who was playing the VHL, a lower Russian pro league when he was drafted. However, he showed potential when he came over and played for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

In three seasons with the Crunch, Volkov put up a productive 123 points (55 goals, 68 assists) while playing all aspects of the game. He was a streaky scorer who could look like a bona fide superstar one night and then disappear for two or three games. Still, he play was good enough to earn a call-up last season and he appeared in nine regular season games. He dressed for one Stanley Cup game, the deciding Game Six against the Dallas Stars, and drew a key penalty that led to a goal for the Bolts.

This season he was penciled in for a spot on the bottom six, especially once Carter Verhaeghe absconded to the Panthers. It was a make-or-break kind of season for the 8th-ranked player under the age of 25. Despite play that drew praise from the coaching staff, Volkov never found a regular spot in the line-up and was usurped on the depth chart by Ross Colton and Mathieu Joseph.

The Russian forward had 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) with 4 of those points coming in a 4 game stretch from February 9th to February 15th. Since then he had failed to register a point in his last 10 games and was finding more and more time in the press box.

His possession numbers show that he struggled in his role a fourth-line forward. When he was on the ice, the Lightning only controlled 39.65% of the shot attempts. His 42% xGF% was the lowest of any member of the team that had played more than a handful of games this season.

At 23-years-old, his days as a prospect are not over. In Anaheim, a team that is struggling for offense this season, Volkov should have a chance to play a little more than the 9:32 he was getting with the Lightning. A strong skater with a deceptively heavy wrist shot, he might flourish in a more offensively-minded role on the top six with possibly some power play time.

With the trade the Lightning reportedly pick up a late-round draft pick (their specialty) and a prospect. It’s doubtful that the prospect will have much of an impact immediately, but should fill some depth in the organization. They also clear what’s left of his $700,000 cap hit and open up a roster spot with Mitchell Stephens probably due to return in the near future (he was spotted skating with the team earlier in the week).

The emergence of Ross Colton as a reliable fill-in on the fourth line gave the team a little flexibility with the roster as it allows Joseph to move back to his natural position on the wing. Once that happened, Volkov’s spot on the roster became very tenuous.

Update!

Eric Stephens reports the Lightning’s return on the deal:

Morand, a center, was a second round pick in 2017 (60th overall) who has played 20 games with the AHL San Diego Gulls, recording 5 assists.

Update 2

The Lightning have confirmed the deal:

Best of luck to Volkov with the Ducks, and thank you for the memories!

Tampa Bay Lightning Victory Rally & Boat Parade Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images