The NHL’s trade deadline is still months away. With so many teams pressed tightly against the salary cap, trades will be difficult to come by. This includes for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A move that will likely come in the next week or so will be activating Rudolfs Balcers, which may have similar impact to a trade that could be made down the road.
Balcers was claimed off waivers in November by the Lightning from the Florida Panthers. Balcers played in just three games with Tampa Bay prior to being placed on Long Term Injured Reserve in early December. Balcers had one goal in his three games.
This past Sunday, the Lightning assigned Balcers to the AHL on a conditioning loan in order to get back up to speed. That conditioning stint can last as long as two weeks.
Assuming that Balcers is to be activated by the Lightning in the near future, an ensuing move will have to occur. The Lightning currently hold about $720,000 in cap space. Balcers cap hit is $750,000. So a move will have to be made to account for that difference.
Balcers coming into the Lightning at his cap value could provide a solid impact in the lineup. The Lightning have made it clear that they want players in their bottom six that are tough to play against and can skate. Balcers fits that mold. He is the type of player that this team would be looking to add as we head into the second half of the season and already having him in your system makes it a fairly easy plug-in compared to a trade.
Even once Balcers comes back to the lineup, the Lightning will likely still look to add another forward and probably another defenseman as well down the road. Until that time comes however, Balcers could bring a presence that comes with great value. With the stagnant state of things on the trade market, this will have to due for now until some dominoes begin to fall.