How will the Tampa Bay Lightning react to Toronto’s trade for O’Reilly?

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It’s the final countdown. We are less than two weeks away from the March 3 NHL trade deadline. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered Daily face-to-face with at least one trade-focused story each day before the deadline day.

Today we’re going to talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are aiming for a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup final. They are again on a collision course with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. What do the Lightning have up their sleeve after Toronto’s trade for Ryan O’Reilly?

Countdown to 2023 trading deadline: 11 days

Current record: 35-17-3, 73 points (3rd in Atlantic)
General Manager: Julien BriseBois (5th season)
Head Coach: Jon Cooper (10th full season)
Captain: Steven Stamkos (10th season)

Last year: Lost to the Colorado Avalanche (4-2) in the Stanley Cup Final.

Current schedule: Click here

Goals for: 3.51 per game (5th)
Goals conceded: 2.91 per game (13th)
Power play: 25.4% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 81% (11th)

Key additions
F Vladislav Namestnikov – One-year, $2.5m deal signed July 13
LD Ian Cole – Signing a one-year, $3 million contract on July 13
LD Haydn Fleury – Signed a 2-year, $1.525 million contract on July 13
RD Nick Perbix – Signed an entry-level one-year contract on March 22 after four years at St. Cloud State (2017 6th Round Pick by Lightning)
RD Philippe Myers – Acquired from Nashville on July 3, since re-signed for 1 year, $1.4 million extension

Key subtractions
LD Ryan McDonagh – Traded to Nashville on July 3
LW Ondrej Palat – Signed a 5-year, $30 million contract with New Jersey on July 14
RD Jan Rutta – Signed a 3-year, $8.25 million contract with Pittsburgh on July 13

Trainer chart
C Anthony Cirelli – Missed 23 games after shoulder surgery in the offseason
RD Zach Bogosian – Missed 24 games after shoulder surgery in the offseason

Tampa’s two serious injuries this season were treated in the offseason. Otherwise, they iced a full lineup for most of the season. The Bolts initially stalled without Cirelli anchoring the second line, but they’re back to warm up at the right time.

Rewind: Deadline 2022 Playbook

It’s always worth looking back to last year’s trade deadline to see if any insights can be gleaned on how Tampa Bay might handle this year.

March 20, 2022
In Tampa Bay: Nick Paul
To Ottawa: Mathieu Joseph, 2024 4th round pick, 44.5% retained on Paul
(Paul was re-signed July 1 to a 7-year, $22.05 million contract)

March 18, 2022
In Tampa Bay: Brandon Hagel, 2022 4th round pick (Kenny Connors), 2024 4th round pick
In Chicago: Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, 2023 1st-round pick, 2024 1st-round pick

March 21, 2022
In Tampa Bay: Riley Nash
In Arizona: Future Considerations

Make no mistake: when BriseBois identifies a need for his team, he makes a list of strengths, selects a target, and pays the price. There is no monkey business. He does it. For the third year in a row, the Lightning added critical and savvy bits of depth to help propel them to the Cup Final. Their asset pool is incredibly thin this year, but BriseBois is one of the most creative and proactive managers in the league and will more than likely shake things up for his team.

How did we get here?

Once again, Tampa is one of the most consistent teams in the league this year, with no clear and obvious weaknesses or fatal flaws to fix. Do they lack the depth that Palat and McDonagh provided? Sure, but their chances of winning haven’t been drastically changed without those players – and now they can potentially add some to give their best players some breathing room.

The Lightning rank in the top third of the league in the most critical statistical categories. Their offense is fifth best. They also receive contributions from across their range. Hagel and Paul have been as advertised, with Hagel already set to score 20 goals again and Paul setting up 16. Returning from injury, Cirelli continues to anchor the second line and Alex Killorn will break 20 goals for the third time of her career.

Defensively, Tampa keeps opponents from getting into the zone with regularity and limits quality chances against when they get there. They are in the Top 10 in almost every defensive metric: expected goals against, scoring chances against, and high-risk scoring chances against. The one area that could give BriseBois and Jon Cooper a break is their penalty kill, which is still in the top half of the league.

Goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy remains the great equalizer of the game. If there are any defensive breakdowns or typos, Vasilevskiy can easily mop up. He makes up for a lot of mistakes – but as noted, the Bolts aren’t making many.

Deadline Posture: Buyers

While there may be regular season ups and downs, this Tampa team is another iteration of the championship-caliber team they’ve fielded for the past four seasons. They sit third in their division, but they feel like a shark swimming in the Atlantic, waiting for the opportune moment to bite off another deep cut in the playoffs. And as Steven Stamkos so eloquently put it, « We don’t care about picks, » which means BriseBois is ready to maximize that core’s championship window by any means necessary.

Deadline Goals

Main objective: Defender of the depths

If Tampa’s shorthandedness is really a problem, or if Cooper wants to reduce Victor Hedman’s workload before the playoffs, perhaps the best course of action is to acquire a defenseman who can add to his depth. , assisting the numerically disadvantaged and providing a physical presence. We’ve seen that Tampa is active in this market with Ian Cole and Philippe Myers added to the mix, although the Myers bet (and extension) doesn’t seem to be paying off.

Secondary objective: Depth forward

One element that is definitely missing from Tampa’s last six forward group is a burst of speed. None of Pat Maroon, Corey Perry or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would be considered a burner. The Bolts could use a bit of a boost there, preferably one forward if they’re going to let go of some of their valuable assets.

Potential targets

  • Noah Gregor, San Jose Sharks: Gregor will soon appear on our next Trade Targets chart. If Tampa feels the asking price is too high, Gregor has many of the same skills — with likely even better straight-line speed. He was a point-per-game teammate playing on a line with Brayden Point in Moose Jaw.
  • Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators: It’s not yet clear if Jeannot is available, but the Preds should be in sale mode. Jeannot will have a more costly arbitration case after his 24-goal season last year. Maybe Nashville is interested in moving forward. Jeannot has size, toughness, shorthanded ability and a scoring touch.
  • Will Borgen, Seattle Kraken: Borgen is an interesting fit in Tampa. The question is: Would Seattle, in its own run for the playoffs, be willing to part ways with him? He is a pending RFA, so he would remain under the control of the team and he only earns $900,000. A number of teams have scrutinized Borgen recently because they believe he has a lot to add.

(With Borgen, Jeannot and Gregor, the Bolts could trade for the pending RFAs, re-sign them or return them this summer and likely get almost the same price they paid in return. Or at least thereabouts.)

  • Garnet Hathaway, Washington Capitals: Whether the Caps go the seller’s route remains to be seen, but Hathaway is an interesting play nonetheless. He’s a jack-of-all-trades player, someone who brings his lunch bucket every day – and a player who could rack up points if he played with more talented players.
  • Jake McCabe, Chicago Blackhawks: McCabe is another Blackhawk who fits the bill, especially if the Hawks are willing to keep half of his contract, which would drop him to just $2 million for the next two seasons. Learn more about McCabe and his game here.
  • Sam Lafferty, Chicago Blackhawks: Speed? Check. Penalty contributor? Check. Reasonable contract length? It’s the Tampa trifecta, baby. Lafferty is second in the league behind Reilly Smith with three shorthanded goals. It has one year left for a low price of $1.15 million. And Tampa has the assets available to acquire it. A year after turning to Chicago for Hagel with a similar bet, Lafferty could be the guy this year.

Exchange Tokens

The Lightning would like to shop at Gucci, but they have a wallet worthy of Walmart. Tampa’s prospect pool is understandably thin. The Lightning have already traded their first-round picks in 2023 and 2024. They also don’t have a second-round pick this season. Also of note: Brisebois did not move many important roster players (Joseph, Raddysh, Katchouk) to improve the Bolts at the deadline and we expect this to continue. Here’s what’s probably at stake:

  • 2025 1st Round Pick: Is it possible a team is willing to bet the long game on Tampa and thinks it’s headed for a downturn by 2024-25? They should hope that a natural decline of aging would put them in pole position in the draft.
  • G Hugo Alnefelt: He was rock solid in the AHL Syracuse this season at age 20. The 6-foot-3 Swede has a .923 save percentage in 20 AHL games — and there’s a clear hurdle ahead of him in Vasilevskiy.
  • LW Isaac Howard: BriseBois has only made two first-round picks in four summers as general manager. He traded Nolan Foote in 2020 for Blake Coleman. Howard is the other, an undersized winger who tore up the USNTDP and is having a lackluster year at Minnesota-Duluth.
  • C Jack Finley: Finley is a 6-foot-6 center who was a 2nd-round pick in 2020. That kind of size is always going to get someone’s attention.


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  • The Blackhawks mined a diamond in the rough from Deadline Day in Sam Lafferty

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