Earlier this week, Tampa Bay Lightning fans were not exactly pleased with the moves their team was making. On Sunday, they sent goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles. Less than 24 hours later, center Brian Boyle was sent packing to Toronto. Both were acquired for picks and prospects, and it looked like the team was in full seller mode. On Wednesday, they continued to make moves, but by the time the trade deadline rolled around at 3 pm EST, the tune had completely changed. Rumors had been floating that Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was trying to trade center Valtteri Filppula, who was thought to have a deal that was going to be incredibly difficult to move due to his no-movement clause.
In addition, Filppula also has a modified no-trade clause that included 16 teams he was allowed to block any moves to. However, Yzerman found a way to get a deal done, and the Lightning have a lot more salary cap space to work with during the offseason.
In the final hour of deadline, Filppula was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers, along with a 2017 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick, in exchange for 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit, who is an impending unrestricted free agent. Filppula, 32, has a $5 million cap hit that runs through the end of the 2017-18 season and has 7 goals and 34 points in 59 games. Earlier in the week, he had reportedly nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to ESPN and TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun, the Flyers agreed to retain 4.7% of Streit’s salary in the deal.
This is not a typo: the Flyers retained 4.7 percent of Streit’s remaining salary/cap hit in that Filppula trade. Just 4.7 percent.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 1, 2017
Yzerman wasn’t done, however.
Soon after, he got on the phone with the Pittsburgh Penguins and promptly flipped Streit to the Pens in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round selection. The Lightning agreed to retain 50% of the remaining 95.3% of Streit’s salary in the deal with Pittsburgh.
This is a brilliant move by Yzerman for a few reasons. For starters, he essentially unloaded a $5 million contract for a declining veteran in Filppula at the cost of a seventh-round choice. The Lightning don’t have to retain any of Filppula’s salary and they don’t have to worry about buying him out. Streit’s contract hit comes off the books during the summer since he’s a UFA. Tampa Bay also has a lot more salary cap space to work with, which can be used towards re-signing restricted free agents Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin. A popular sentiment had been that the Triplets line of Johnson, Palat, and Nikita Kucherov were going to be broken up. Now it appears that might not be the case. Lastly, the Lightning’s plans for the expansion draft in June have changed. Filppula’s no-move clause meant that he had to be protected per the league’s rules for that draft. Rather than risk losing someone like Alex Killorn or Vlad Namestnikov in the expansion draft, they can now protect one of those two instead.
When you combine better protection for the expansion draft, more cap space, more assets and draft picks coming in, and a better chance at retaining the team’s core while still remaining in the hunt for a playoff spot, I’d say that’s a pretty solid ending to what had started off as a hectic few days of change and uncertainty around the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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