The Tampa Bay Lightning and General Manager, Julien BriseBois elected to let the clock strike 3 PM without making a move before the trade deadline. The team the Lightning have now will be the team they have the rest of the way with the exception of expected recalls from Syracuse at some point.
After trading Vlad Namestnikov to San Jose in exchange for Michael Eyssimont on Wednesday, it looked as though the Lightning were in position to make another trade, perhaps to improve their defense but ultimately elected not to do so. Tanner Jeannot and Eyssimont will be the only outside faces coming in looking to improve this team.
Following the move Wednesday, the Lightning are now looking at a little over $1.2 million in cap space. Many expected they would use that remaining space to bring in a defenseman. Names like Joel Edmundson and John Klingberg floated around with interest linked to Tampa Bay but management ultimately determined there was not a move that made sense considering the small amount of assets and cap space that remained.
By electing to stand pat on deadline day, Tampa Bay is betting on the defense group they currently have. The blue-line is thinner than it has been in recent years, especially without Cal Foote to have on hand as a seventh defenseman.
As things sit right now, Haydn Fleury would be the next man up in the case one of the current defensemen go down. Beyond Fleury, Darren Raddysh and Phil Myers are the next options on a recall basis from Syracuse. Raddysh got into a game Thursday night against Pittsburgh but was sent down Friday to ensure that he was eligible for the Syracuse playoff roster.
One thing that was a bit confusing at first about not making a move today, was what was the point of moving out Namestnikov in exchange for Eyssimont? It seemed at first like the move was really more about clearing some cap space for another move rather than thinking Eyssimont was a better option than Namestnikov.
At this point, management determined they prefer having Eyssimont as an option as the thirteenth forward over Namestnikov, especially since Eyssimont is under contract for only $700,000 and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. They feel like he can have an impact when he gets a chance in the lineup. Additionally, the cap space created allows flexibility with calling players up from Syracuse over the final weeks of the season.
More than one thing can be true. The Lightning could have made the previous trade and have been considering another. Now, the $1.2 million and change in cap space they have can only be taken up by somebody already in the organization. At the end of the day, the Lightning are taking the bet on the team they have.
Asked JBB whether he was looking to upgrade D-men. Said Raddysh can return & Myers is an NHL D. “Our top six, all of them have had success in the playoffs except Nick Perbix. It’s not an area of concern for me. I’ll put our D-corps up there with some of the best in the league.”