Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Deadline Preview: Assets

Who can the Lightning afford?

The NHL’s Trade Deadline is fast approaching and many players are going to be off to one city or another. We’ve already seen Vladimir Tarasenko traded to New York, Bo Horvat to Long Island, and possibly Jakob Chychrun to Los Angeles? Though, that last one seems to have fallen apart and now Columbus might be in on the deal.

As reporters are throwing speculation around, there’s not been much of anything happening around the Tampa Bay Lightning. There’s been a month’s long “will they or won’t they” with Luke Schenn, but other than that we’ve gotten no news.

So if we can’t get any real information, let’s at least narrow down the list of possible options and be prepared. We first tackled this a few weeks ago, but with the deadline looming even closer, let’s see if anything has changed.

What we have

First, let’s talk about the lack of assets in the room. The Lightning don’t have first round picks for the next two years, nor their second round pick this year. They have their third round pick for this year and onward.

As for prospects, the lone first round pick, Isaac Howard, has had a very poor year in the NCAA, so his value is quite low at the moment. The Lightning have others, like Dylan Duke and Nico Huuhtanen who have impressed, but aren’t those A-Level prospects teams covet. They’re B-Level, and some are close to NHL-ready, which can be useful.

Putting all that together, unless the Lightning wanted to start getting rid of first round picks in 2025, there’s little to no chance they’ll be getting a notable player of any kind. There’s a small chance they can get a middle-six player like Ivan Barbashev, who could command either a first round pick or a second round pick and a B-Level prospect. But that would be the ceiling for the Lightning in terms of trade capital, if the Blues are willing to wait for the draft picks. Again, any pick a team picks up from the Lightning over the next few seasons is hopefully in the later portion of each round.

Next is cap space. The Lightning have $1.57 million in cap space at the trade deadline with a 21-player roster. Haydn Fleury as the extra. Most of that space is currently being absorbed by the $1.425 million of dead money from Philippe Myers who is in the minors. The Lightning would likely have to move his deal in some fashion in order to have a chance at some of the higher-priced trade targets. His extension for next season, while not as pricey as his current contract ($1.4 million total, of which $1.15 million can be buried in the minors) will make it harder for a team to bring him on as cap ballast going the other way.

I said it in the summer and I’ll say it again, I really question JBB’s decision to keep and extend Myers, when they could’ve gotten a significant cap credit for this season by buying Myers out. Instead they have a cost for multiple years for a player not in the NHL. That one move probably cost the team a chance to make upgrades at this deadline. Could this be one of the few missteps in a fairly solid resume for JBB?

Last player on the roster of note is Cal Foote. He’s clearly not a regular NHLer on this team, but the question is does he have trade value? He’s not been put on waivers yet, but he’s not far from it. If a team were to believe they could fix/rehabilitate/reinvigorate Foote then the Lightning might get someone to bite. I think the best candidate for that would be the Vancouver Canucks. They like big D and don’t care that they’re terrible in their own end (OEL, Myers, Schenn). Of course, with a cap hit of just $850,000, moving him out doesn’t free up much space.

Cal Foote for Luke Schenn?

Done deal49
Lightning say no67
Canucks say no29

The cap space situation parallels the asset situation. The Lightning can’t get any difference-makers, they’ll have to focus on depth.

That’ll be what we focus on in the next article in this series. Sorry this article ended on somewhat of a dreary tune, but stay tuned!