Lightning Don’t Need to Get in Arms Race with Leafs

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s clock is ticking on the NHL’s March 3rd trade deadline and the Eastern Conference has been bulking up. The Rangers and Islanders were among the teams taking the earliest big swings, landing Bo Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The most recent move came from the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team we have known will be the Lightning’s first round opponent in the playoffs for some time. The Leafs made a big swing on Saturday bringing in former Conny Smythe Trophy Winner, Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari.

Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas is without a contract for next season. This was his first real blockbuster trade in an attempt to save his job with the hopes of the Leafs getting out of the first round. This move was clearly made with their first round opponent in mind with O’Reilly bringing leadership and championship pedigree.

The focus shortly after shifted to how the Lightning will respond. The Lightning will surely make some sort of move(s) ahead of the deadline but are not in position to take the sort of big swing the Leafs just did.

The Lightning essentially have zero cap room at the moment and do not have a ton of assets as a result of going “all in” in past seasons. Because of that, taking a real big swing at the trade deadline is pretty unrealistic.

The big swing type of players that the Lightning are likely not going to be around include Patrick Kane, Jakob Chychrun and Timo Meier. These are players that the Lightning would love to have, but they are simply not in position to add these types of players.

As the Lightning are composed now, they are probably good enough to beat the Leafs again. Another depth piece would certainly be helpful, but the need to try and keep up with Toronto’s moves is just not realistic or necessary.

Tampa Bay already has a solid team and they have the biggest advantage over the Maple Leafs in a seven game series, goaltending. Between goaltending and the team from the net out, Tampa Bay should not concern their moves with matching up with the Leafs too much.

Tampa Bay has their sights set on much more than one playoff series, so they do not need to taylor their team specifically to the Leafs, the way Toronto might be to them. When it’s all said and done, Julien Brisebois and Lightning management will make the sort of move that is best for their team and nobody else, so don’t look for them to trade punches with the Leafs on the trade front.

Next. Lightning Trade Deadline Primer. dark