It seemed this offseason the Tampa Bay Lightning were invincible. Team friendly deals left and right. However, neither Cedric Paquette nor Braydon Coburn signed. Just days after forward Anthony Cirelli inked a three year, $14.4 million contract, Bolts general manager Julien Brisebois felt it the right time to deal with a funny thing called “being cap compliant.” On Sunday evening, the Lightning cut ties with two cogs, dealing Paquette and Coburn to the Ottawa Senators.
The trade sees the Lightning shed cap and a draft pick and gain the rights to two players in return, in the form of legendary forward Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson. The pick is a 2022 second-rounder. Gaborik and Nilsson will both be placed on long-term injury reserve. Neither will play this season.
Paquette out of town
Paquette doesn’t necessarily jump off the stat-sheet. That being said, he has been integral to Tampa. Bolts fans may remember his goal in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup final. A dagger. A game winner.
Coburn calls game
Meanwhile, Coburn lifted the Bolts to victory with a GWG of his own in a crucial tilt. Game seven versus Detroit in the first round of that same run.
The future is now
Coburn saw a more limited role in the past few seasons. The emergence of the likes of Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, and Jan Rutta contributed to his lack of ice time down the stretch. Speaking of emergences, it may finally be time. Time for Cal Foote to make the big squad. The absence of Coburn makes it a much more likely proposal for the Bolts.
To the tune of making the jump, Paquette’s departure opens another door. One for Mitchell Stephens to skate through. He should be firmly entrenched in the Tampa Bay roster as a fourth line center sooner rather than later. For “Ceddy,” as he’s known, a dwindling two-year deal made him an ideal trade candidate. Lo and behold.
While Stephens and Foote are young and inexperienced, both have lit it up in junior, and Stephens has shone when in the Lightning lineup. Foote will bring speed, creativity and mobility to the Tampa blue-line.
Paquette, while not a sniper, played fourth line minutes and managed 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 61 regular season games last campaign.
Coburn, logging 40 contests, put up one goal and three assists.
Being the grinder he is, Paquette was a fourth-round selection back in 2012. Coburn, 35, has amassed 137 postseason games throughout a solid career.
According to CapFriendly, with Kucherov, Gaborik and Nilsson all out long-term, the Lightning have nearly $17 million that can be placed on LTIR.
The Bolts are currently projected by CapFriendly to be sitting at $15 million and change above the ceiling, leaving just over $1 million in usable space. Space that must be used prior to January 12 at 5PM.
The age old question. What do we do now? For Brisebois, there are two names that have been floated around as trade possibilities. One is quite obvious to the Lightning fanbase. Tyler Johnson, who cleared waivers amidst the pandemic. Johnson, an undrafted gem and former member of the “Triplets” line, would be a nice move in a contiued attempt to clear cap.
While the forward did find his way through waivers, he’s a valuable commodity. Aging, but not old. Small, but skilled.
The other prime suspect to be dealt is Alex Killorn. While he carries a hefty contract, his game is even more sought after than Johnson’s. Size. Hands. Power play prowess. All in the skills and qualifications section of the Harvard product’s resume.
A different look
It’s no secret that championship teams never stay together in full. This Lightning group will have a similar makeup, less an injured Kucherov, and a few pieces at either end of the ice who took their talents elsewhere. They’ll be as hard pressed to repeat as they were to get compliant, but anything is possible.
As Paquette and Coburn walk out the door, their replacements represent a new era of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. A new light. A new team. The same hope. It all begins January 13 against Chicago.
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