The Tampa Bay Lightning made another trade Wednesday night by acquiring Michael Eyssimont from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Vlad Namestnikov.
This move really seems more about clearing up some cap space for another move rather than acquiring Eyssimont. Tampa Bay retained 50% of Namestnikov $2.5 million cap hit, bringing his hit down to $1.25 for the remainder of his one year deal.
Eyssimont comes in at $750,000 which brings the Lightning to just over $1 million in cap space available to work with ahead of Friday’s trade deadline.
After the Tanner Jeannot trade that sent Cal Foote to the Nashville Predators, the Lightning’s defense group has been left a bit thin. With only seven defensemen on the NHL roster, the Lightning are most likely looking to acquire another blue-liner with the remaining cap room that they have.
Trading Namestnikov has become an annual trade deadline tradition. This is now the fourth season in which he has been dealt in-season and the second time from Tampa Bay. Namestnikov was part of the package deal that brought Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller to the Lightning at the deadline in 2018.
Namestnikov’s reunion with the Lightning did not really go as planned this season. In 57 games this season, Namestnikov had just 15 points and six goals. At $2.5 million, Tampa Bay was hoping for a bit more from him. After Jeannot came in, Namestnikov became the odd man out of the lineup as the 13th forward. He could still have been effective in that role and would have been a solid option to fill in if an injury came up but that was simply too much money to have sitting in the press box.
As for Eyssimont, he will likely take on the 13th forward role. He has played just 40 NHL games and has 13 points across two seasons with Winnipeg and San Jose. The 26 year old forward likely will not have a big role right away but may if an injury arises.
Not much was really known about Eyssimont after playing only 40 career games in the Western Conference. Earlier this year however, he did score a fight with Brayden Point when the Sharks came to Amalie Arena.
Expect this to not be the final move for Tampa Bay ahead of Friday’s deadline. A defenseman being brought in is most likely the next direction this team will look.