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Tampa Bay Lightning make two trades on Tuesday

Don’t worry, your favorite NHL’er is still on the team

Scott Thomas Photography

With the NHL Trade Deadline now less than 50 days away (it’s March 21st this year) Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Julien Brisebois got a kickstart on things by swinging a couple of deals on Tuesday. While it’s always fun to see trade emails come through, if either of the players acquired actually suit up in a Lightning uniform this season, things have gone horribly wrong.

The first deal was with the Dallas Stars. Tampa Bay sent Alexei Lipanov to the Stars in exchange for left wing Tye Felhaber. The undrafted 23-year-old was then assigned to the Orlando Solar Bears. Lipanov, a 2017 third-round pick of the Lightning, had appeared in 8 games for the Solar Bears this year, recording just one assist.

While he has shown flashes of talent, Lipanov hasn’t developed quite as fast as the organization had hoped. He was considered a bit of a reach when the Lightning took him 76th overall, but the organization had hoped he would be another one of those mid-round picks that just kind of worked out for them. Injuries slowed his development a bit and other prospects in the system moved past him.

As for Felhaber, he was a prolific goalscorer in the OHL, putting up 285 points (145 goals, 140 assists) in 311 games with the Saginaw Spirit and Ottawa 67’s. In the AHL he’s put together 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 90 games with the Laval Rocket and Texas Stars. He fits the bill for a “Lightning-esque” forward - small and quick with an underrated shot. While he will start with Orlando, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him up in Syracuse some time soon.

Later in the day, the Lightning completed another deal with a Central Division foe, this time the Nashville Predators. Jimmy Huntington was sent out to the Predators in exchange for center Anthony Richard. The 25-year-old was a fourth-round pick in 2015 for the Preds and has spent much of this season in Milwaukee, scoring 7 goals and adding 5 assists. Richard has appeared in two NHL games, including one against the Lightning, but has yet to record a point.

At 5’10, 163 lbs, he might not be the biggest player on the ice, but he might be one of the quickest. In 322 AHL games, he’s averaging almost a 12 point per game, with 79 goals and 73 assists. It appears he plays the uptempo type of game that should flourish under Ben Groulx, if he commits to playing a little defense as well.

Oddly enough, he seems to profile similar to the younger Jimmy Huntington, who the Lightning signed as an undrafted free agent following a successful QMJHL career. Huntington seemed to be finding his stride this season, kicking off the season with a hat trick for the Crunch and posting 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 27 games.

The move does give the Crunch a little more experience up the middle as they start their push for the playoffs. While the moves don’t move the needle much for the Lightning, it does show the organization’s commitment to the success of their affiliates, something that has been a hallmark since the Steve Yzerman days.