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Lightning Round: has the Josh Manson trade set the market?

Does this help the Lightning? Unfortunately, no

Tampa Bay Lightning v Anaheim Ducks

Yesterday, Josh Manson was acquired by the Colorado Avalanche from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick and 2019 second-round pick defender Drew Helleson. Anaheim also retained half the money for Manson in the deal. This is the first major swap in March, ahead of the Trade Deadline on the 31st.

Some of the chatter surrounding the trade has been the interest in 2023 draft picks over 2022 picks by the bottom-feeder teams. Whether it’s because of recent interrupted seasons, including World Junior tournaments, or a looming uncertainty over whether Russian prospects will even be worth drafting if they can’t gain a visa due to the invasion of Ukraine, there’s a lot more certainty and time for things to play out in the next year rather than the next three months.

There’s also a lot of talk coming from draft experts that the 2023 group is going to be full of a lot more talent and is worth betting hard on. While I mostly disagree — there’s talent in every draft, especially in the first two rounds, as long as you can find it — this trade is one indication that teams are really buying into it.

As of right now, a 2023 second-round pick might be more valuable than a 2022 first rounder. For a team like the Lightning, who have this year’s first and nothing until the fifth round, and not next year’s second (traded with Tyler Johnson), that makes things difficult for them. Is this season worth risking a 2023 first-round pick? I ask because I’m not sure who I’d want to pick up that’s worth that amount, but also because the Lightning have zero cap space, and there are few names I’d think about trading away along with the pick to bring someone in.

Ondřej Palat, who is a pending UFA, certainly shouldn’t be discarded, nor Alex Killorn. Jan Rutta might be the guy, but then there’s not much money that can be brought in. Even with double retention, the team is capped at a player with a cap hit of $5.2 million or less in that scenario. No Kessel, Hertl, Boeser, Forsberg, or Giroux.

All that said, if this deadline turns into an arms race between the Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning will need to buy if their opponents get significantly better. How is the all-important question, however. Unless Julien BriseBois can pull some more magic out of his hat, he might be forced into the only move he can make: standing pat.

Lightning Links

Geo took a look at the Lightning roster and tried to see what the future holds for a bunch of the team’s pending free agents. [Raw Charge]

“The other consideration for the Lightning will be that the following offseason, Anthony Cirelli, Ross Colton, Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, and Cal Foote will all be restricted free agents and will be due for raises, some of them quite hefty. Something will likely have to give to get everyone under the cap with only Alex Killorn, Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scheduled to be unrestricted free agents that summer.”

Boris Katchouk is back from his conditioning stint. He played three games for the Crunch, earning one assist on seven shots. Justin has an article on his performance in this week’s Crunch Wrap out later this morning.

With two goals, Ross Colton was the team’s player of the week after hitting a 10-goal milestone in his first full season.

Luke Schenn’s son’s favorite player is Andrei Vasilevskiy. Take that, Demko!

Four Western NHL teams are backing a junior hockey league in the west coast, a much-needed place for young players to play. [The Hockey News]

And because a career in the NHL is difficult to achieve for any junior player, there will be an emphasis on preparing the kids for college: Like the USHL, the new league will be arranged so that its players will maintain NCAA eligibility.

While the USHL will be an obvious competitor for talent, Robert doesn’t necessarily see that top American circuit that way, since geographically there will be no overlap.