The Tampa Bay Lightning have traded Restricted Free Agent forward Ross Colton to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the 37th overall pick in tonight’s NHL Entry Draft. Colorado received the pick via the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay was previously not slated to pick in this year’s draft until the sixth round. Trading Colton allows the Lightning to get back into what is considered to be a very deep draft this year.
Colton was looking at a new deal likely well above his required $1.25 million qualifying offer. His rising price tag took him out of the Lightning’s price range as the Lightning are now looking at losing Colton and Alex Killorn as well.
Getting a high second round pick is a solid return for Tampa Bay, especially considering they were not expected to be much of a participant in this year’s draft. If the Lightning were never going to be able to re-sign Colton, getting a decent pick back in return is a much better deal than having Colton potentially leave for nothing.
Colton becomes the latest in a growing list of Lightning cap casualties. Tampa Bay has drafted and developed so many good players, it has become impossible to keep everybody. The salary cap not increasing does not help either.
Colton will turn 27 this fall and is looking at a raise and a chance to play on one of Colorado’s top two lines. In his three seasons in Tampa, Colton had 89 points in 190 regular season games. Colton’s lasting memory in Tampa will be scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 2021.