Vincent Lecavalier has said he wants to finish his career in Tampa Bay. Who could the Bolts move to improve for a playoff push next season?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a solid core and a wealth of prospects but very minimal salary-cap space. With so many assets and such little money to work with, Tampa Bay will have to look at trades to free up money and improve the team this offseason.
One target for trade talks this past offseason could have been Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. His declining performance and injury issues combined with the team’s highest salary-cap hit ($7.727 million) would have made him a prime target. However, Lecavalier has a no-trade clause and mentioned he would like to stay in Tampa Bay for the rest of his career.
There are a few players that the Lightning could shop around this offseason in order to improve the team for a playoff run in 2013-14.
Ryan Malone has struggled with the Lightning. Could he be moved this offseason?
Ryan Malone comes with a $4.5 million salary-cap hit and a contract that runs through 2014-15. He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. The 33-year-old forward played in 77 games in 2007-08 but has missed 91 games in five years with the Lightning.
Malone’s biggest season was in 2011-12, when he put up 48 points in 68 games. With so much young talent in the system—especially at forward—an aging Malone may be a moveable piece this offseason.
Eric Brewer had a rough year this season. The Lightning need to improve defensively and may look to move him even with the modified no-trade clause.
Eric Brewer is another player that hasn’t lived up to expectations with the Bolts. A former first-round pick (fifth overall) in 1997, Brewer has a plus-three rating in 152 career games with the Lightning.
Brewer is also under contract until 2014-15 and carries a modified no-trade clause. The modified NTC will significantly limit the chance of him being traded, but the Bolts should consider finding some return for Brewer.
Tyler Johnson is the reigning AHL MVP and his stock may never be higher.
Tyler Johnson is one of the most talented prospects the Lightning have. Johnson earned the 2013 Les Cunningham Award (American Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player) after putting up 65 points in 62 games.
The 5’10” center could attract a ton of attention thanks to his AHL success. This may be the highest his stock reaches and the perfect opportunity to trade him for defensive prospects.
The Bolts don’t have a lot of depth at center in the system, which would help justify the Lightning keeping him.