NHL Trade Deadline: 5 Moves the Tampa Bay Lightning Must Consider
5 Moves Tampa Bay Lightning Must Consider
The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Despite losing their best player 17 games into the season, the team has rallied together under head coach Jon Cooper. The Lightning have been led by captain Martin St. Louis who has picked up the slack and leads the team with 25 goals and 56 points in 58 games. Free agent signing Valtteri Filppula has proven that his 66-point season with the Detroit Red Wings wasn't a fluke as he is second in points with 41 in 56 games, though he is sidelined with a fractured ankle.
What has been a major deciding factor in the Lightning's success this season is the play of journeyman goaltender Ben Bishop. It seems that Bishop has finally found his place after bouncing around the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators organizations. He has posted a goals-against average under a 2.00 and a save percentage above .930, both leading the NHL. The team's defense has contributed as a combination of new, young players and NHL veterans have provided stability.
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman has a truly special club put together this year. Supplemental moves to reinforce the team can go a long way in a long playoff run that Tampa Bay hopes to put together. The organization has a lot of young prospects and draft picks that it could move out in exchange for rentals and other players to improve the team.
5. Reinforce Scoring Depth
Scoring hasn't been an issue for the Lightning this season, but another sniper in the ranks can never hurt. The Calgary Flames' Mike Cammalleri is one of the best pure snipers on the market and could be had at a reasonable price. He plays center or left wing and could fill in well while Filppula recovers from his ankle injury.
4. Move Out Ryan Malone
Ryan Malone is just taking up cap space at this point. His cap hit is $4.5 million yet his actual salary this year and next are lower, making him an ideal target for a team looking to get to the cap floor. There are much better uses for valuable cap space, so move Malone for assets that can then be flipped to help the squad.
3. Acquire a Versatile Center
Nashville Predators center David Legwand is one of the most versatile centers in the league, able to slot anywhere in the lineup. He provides a lot of options for his club and would fit in well on a team such as Tampa Bay that has a lot of rookies on the squad. Legwand is the ideal player to have as a third line center who can move up in case of injury during a playoff run.
2. Improve Depth of Forwards
The Tampa Bay Lightning have several rookies in the squad playing well for them right now, but bringing in experienced forward depth such as the Detroit Red Wings' Patrick Eaves would reinforce the group for the grind that is the NHL postseason. Eaves is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and Detroit could get by parting with him for a low cost.
1. Enjoy Getting Healthy
Tampa Bay will get arguably the best pure sniper in the league back coming towards the deadline: Steven Stamkos. Before injury, Stamkos had 14 goals in just 17 games. While he won't keep that pace up, settling back into his usual pace of a goal every other game will be a huge boost for the Lightning. He is sure to improve the power play and will make the Lightning that much more difficult to play against in the postseason.