Tampa Bay Lightning side deal with Vegas Golden Knights not surprising

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman plays 4D chess.
Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman plays 4D chess. /

The reported side deal with the Vegas Golden Knights — to protect the Tampa Bay Lightning’s young defensemen from the expansion and take costly veteran defenseman Jason Garrison — is just Steve Yzerman doing Steve Yzerman things.

“Trust the Yzerplan.”

It’s a mantra Tampa Bay Lightning fans have come to adopt when discussing hockey, referencing the moves of general manager Steve Yzerman, whose “GM” title sometimes seems like it should stand for “g–damned magician.”

He negotiated away valuable space under the salary cap before the 2017 trade deadline, which should enable him to pay pending restricted free agents like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr, at least two of whom are due for a raise.

Yzerman also managed to get something for goaltender Ben Bishop, trading him as a rental to the Los Angeles Kings, knowing full well he couldn’t afford to resign him and that he had Andrei Vasilevskiy waiting in the wings. It takes some panache to convince a fellow exec that he needs Bishop when he has Jonathan Quick returning from injury, considering the Tampa Bay Lightning could very well have ended up with nothing and simply lost Bishop to free agency.

So it should come as no surprise that the Bolts’ front office All-Star is reported to have dealings in the works surrounding today’s NHL Expansion Draft. The first rumor to hit the web came from Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Smith. Smith offered vague tidings, via Twitter, that a deal may be in place to protect the Tampa Bay Lightning’s “young D.”

As the Bolts left Jake Dotchin and Slate Koekkoek exposed in favor of Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn, it makes perfect sense that Yzerman would want to find a way to keep the young blue-liners. Given that Vegas GM George McPhee has made it clear that they’re willing to make deals — as building a young team through strong drafting will likely increase their odds of success with a budding franchise — it’s a no-brainer that Stevie y would be willing to part with a draft pick to get what he wants.

"“If they want to give us draft picks to encourage us to take a certain player or leave another player alone, we’re open-minded and we’re going to listen to everyone.”"

The next log on the rumor fire came from NHL insider extraordinaire Bob McKenzie. TSN’s guru has apparently heard that the Vegas Golden Knights might specifically be taking defenseman Jason Garrison off the Tampa Bay Lightning books.

This deal, if true, would come as great news to Bolts faithful, given Garrison’s defensive regression and $4.6 million cap hit, not to mention full no-trade clause. However, there’s no telling what he’d have to give up to make this magic happen.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning expansion draft prediction: Youth is on the move

Most of Yzerman’s deals of late have been in the service of the salary cap, and this one would be no exception. So far, the Tampa Bay Lightning GM’s deals have been turning up aces. If this one goes through, are there any lengths that would be too far to go in order to make it happen? Is there too high a draft price to pay, risking the team’s future in service of the now?

Trust the Yzerplan.