Trade Deadline Primer: 7 players the Tampa Bay Lightning could acquire

Mar 13, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) checks Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte (64) in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) checks Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte (64) in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /
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Players With Term (RFA or Contract Years)

Brandon Hagel – LW, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 23
Stats: 21 Goals | 16 Assists | -14 | 17:28 TOI/G
Contract: 2024 RFA, $1,500,000
Misc. Stats: 25 Blocked Shots | 42 Hits | 80:51 PK TOI

Trade board rankings:

  • The Athletic: 25
  • Daily Faceoff: 6
  • TSN: 12

Brandon Hagel is the youngest option here, and likely the costliest to acquire. Chicago’s front office has made it clear they are undertaking a rebuild, but Hagel at 23 years old remains young enough to be a future core piece alongside their 21-year-old center, former 3rd overall pick, Kirby Dach.

Hagel is one of Chicago’s top penalty killers and has the skill to play on Tampa’s top lines. He brings enough tenacity and willingness to play a heavy game that would allow him to succeed lower in the lineup too. Looking at Hagel’s ability to control chances on the ice, he is Chicago’s top forward with a the Corsi For% of 50.19% at even strength.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of acquiring Hagel would be his cost certainty until the end of the 2024 season with only a $1,500,000 cap hit. With the Lightning facing a cap crunch for the foreseeable future, especially after 2023, acquiring a player such as Hagel on a team friendly contract would go a long way.

One major prohibitive issue to the Lightning acquiring Hagel is our zero cap space. Even though his contract could be easily made to fit by replacing him with any player if Chicago retained half his salary, getting them to use one of their three retention slots on an already extremely team-friendly contract for three seasons seems very unlikely. So, GM BriseBois would have to get creative in making Hagel’s cap number fit.

Here you can get a sense of the offensive talent Hagel possess that separates him from the rest of the forwards on this list (excuse the Kane highlights).

Artturi Lehkonen – LW/RW, Montreal Canadiens

Age: 26
Stats: 13 Goals | 15 Assists | +1 | 14:39 TOI/G
Contract: 2022 RFA, $2,300,000
Misc. Stats: 23 Blocked Shots | 58 Hits | 120:37 PK TOI

Trade board rankings:

  • The Athletic: 24
  • Daily Faceoff: 31
  • TSN: 22

Artturi Lehkonen is an intriguing option as there are many statistics that back him up as being a potential needle mover for a team in the playoffs. He is Montreal’s top penalty kill forward by ice-time, he scores at a respectable rate, brings the physicality desired for playoff hockey by blocking shots, throwing hits, and going to the front of the net, and ranks as the Canadiens’ top forward in the CF% and xGF% metrics at even strength.

A potential hiccup to making any trade work would be that the Canadiens are not committed on selling Lehkonen at the deadline. He’s a valuable piece to the Canadiens’ locker room, and the Canadiens are not necessarily in sell mode as they still have the players in place to make playoff runs after falling the Lightning in the Stanley Cup last year but floundered out of the gate this season before showing new life under new head coach Martin St. Louis.

The asking price to acquire Lehkonen is rumored to start with a first-round draft pick but could rival the value of the package the Lightning sent the Devils in exchange for Blake Coleman if there’s large demand for him. Also, with Montreal being a division rival, we can almost guarantee he would not come cheap if we were to pursue him.

Another aspect that differentiates Lehkonen from the rest of the forwards here is that he has desirable playoff and Stanley Cup Final experience with Montreal from last season. Here he is scoring the goal that sent the Canadiens to the Final against the Lightning.

Luke Schenn – RD, Vancouver Canucks

Age: 32
Stats: 3 Goals | 9 Assists | +13 | 17:04 TOI/G
Contract: 2023 UFA, $850,000
Misc. Stats: 69 Blocked Shots | 190 Hits | 83:19 PK TOI

Trade board rankings:

  • The Athletic: NR
  • Daily Faceoff: NR
  • TSN: 58

If there’s concerns about the right side of the Lightning’s defense, what better option to bring in than someone who was on the previous two Stanley Cup winning teams. Luke Schenn played 19 games combined the previous two postseasons for the Lightning but left for a larger role with the Vancouver Canucks in the offseason.

With Vancouver, Schenn has averaged almost 6 more minutes of ice-time per game than he did the previous two seasons in Tampa and has been predominately paired with Quinn Hughes as the stay-at-home physical defenseman of their pairing. He would be a natural fit to slide back into a similar role paired with Hedman or Sergachev.

While trade talk around Schenn has been light around the league, Vancouver could be in the position to sell assets like Schenn at the deadline even though they remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

The fit for Tampa is obvious if they want him. However, part of Schenn signing in Vancouver instead of Tampa was his desire for a larger role. A trade to back to Tampa would probably make him the 7th defenseman and possibly keep him in that position until the end of the 2023 season.

Jacob Middleton – LD, San Jose Sharks

Age: 26
Stats: 3 Goals | 6 Assists | +3 | 19:05 TOI/G
Contract: 2022 RFA, $725,000 (Group VI UFA candidate)
Misc. Stats: 84 Blocked Shots | 83 Hits | 68:05 PK TOI

Trade board rankings:

  • The Athletic: NR
  • Daily Faceoff: NR
  • TSN: 7

Jacob Middleton stands out as a peculiar option as a left-handed defenseman since left defense is the Lightning’s strongest position group. However, Pierre LeBrun has said that the Lightning are among the teams checking in with San Jose on Middleton’s availability. With the acquisition cost said to be around a second-round pick and a prospect and/or additional draft pick.

Middleton would presumably slot into the third pair as a strong shutdown defenseman and free-up Mikhail Sergachev to play more minutes on the right side of pairings with Hedman and McDonagh.

My concern here would be that Sergachev has proven not to be Hedman’s best pairing partner thus far. Hedman paired with Rutta has been on-ice at a much higher rate for even-strength goals, and Hedman with Foote has been better defensively than with Sergachev. Although, if Middleton is capable a playing the right side as a left-handed defender, I see him as a potentially very valuable addition to the Lightning.

Here you can see the physicality and stay-home nature of Middleton’s play style that would make him an attractive target for the Lightning.

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