Lightning Round: Non-contenders make some trades

The deadline isn’t always about the teams chasing the Cup

There were a couple of deals made on Wednesday that didn’t really do much for teams fighting for the Stanley Cup this season. The first deal was out west as the Vegas Golden Knights shipped Shea Weber’s contract and a 5th round pick to Arizona in exchange for Dysin Mayo. With all due respect to Mayo, he’s not the final piece of the puzzle the Golden Knights need to make it to the top of the Western Conference.

Instead, this deal was more about getting prepared for the summer. Right now Vegas is under the salary cap thanks to their use of LTIR for Robin Lehner and Mark Stone. However, that cap relief goes away in the summer and teams are only allowed to be 10% over the cap in the offseason. Had they kept Weber’s contract on the books, they would likely have been over that limit. So, this frees them of this burden for the relatively low price of a 5th round pick and allows them to possibly pick up a player with term at the deadline.

Arizona gets an extra pick and some help in making it to the cap floor next year when Andrew Ladd’s $5.5 million comes off of the books. Could this deal have waited until the summer? Yes, unless Vegas has some more moves up their sleeves.

The other deal saw two teams that are out of the playoffs come together to move some salary around. The Chicago Blackhawks received Nikita Zaitsev, a 2023 2nd round pick, and a 2026 4th round pick in exchange for the ever popular future considerations. For Chicago the picks are more important than the player, but they also need Zaitsev’s salary next season as they will struggle to make it to the Salary Cap Floor if they don’t re-sign Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews.

Ottawa cleared $4.5 million off of their cap for next season as well as almost $6 million in actual money (always key for a team looking to sell to a new owner). They have Tim Stutzle’s extension kicking in next year and have to also decide how much they’re going to pay Alex DeBrincat on his new contract. The qualifying offer to retain his rights starts at $9,000,000, so expect them to work out a long term deal rather than risk losing him by non-tendering him.

With a week to go in the Trade Season we’ll keep an eye on any other teams that are looking to get an early start on clearing up cap issues.

Lightning / NHL News

Solar Bears move up in their division [Raw Charge]

It was a busy week for the Orlando Solar Bears and they managed to accrue enough points to move up in their division.

Esposito’s advice aids growth of third line [Tampa Bay Times]

“You’ve got to shoot more.” That’s the advice that franchise founder Phil Esposito gave to Nick Paul on their recent road trip. That’s also the advice that Espo has given to every hockey player ever. Anyone who has ever listened to a Lightning game on the radio has heard him grumble, “Just shoot it” when the top line tries their fourth tic-tac-toe passing play of the night.

Bally Sport Sun to present Lightning 30th anniversary ViewMaster at March 9th game [BallySport]

As someone who had a ViewMaster as a kid, yes this definitely appeals to my nostalgic side. Of course, it might also be a collector’s item because Bally Sports may not exist much past March 9th.

Bolts don’t need to get in an arms race with Leafs [Bolts By the Bay]

I think I mentioned this the other day, but the folks over at Bolts by the Bay have the right idea. Making a trade just because the Leafs made a trade wouldn’t be smart for the Bolts. After all, the reason the Leafs are upgrading is to try and catch the Lightning. Tampa Bay will make a trade because it helps them, not because they feel they need to keep up with the Jones.