For years, Ryan Callahan has been the Tampa Bay Lightning’s grit. Their sandpaper. Their heart. However, if the writing wasn’t already on the wall for the Bolts’ alternate captain this offseason, when he was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, his career was ended. This left the Lightning two options. Either put Callahan on LTIR, or do exactly what Julien Brisebois did Tuesday morning.
Ryan Callahan’s injuries had riddled him for years. Eventually, the aging forward was hardly on the ice enough to be worth his contract. Lightning fans knew the end was near, and were discussing ways to shed Callahan’s contract this offseason, now desperate to sign Brayden Point. That would become all the more difficult after Callahan’s career ending diagnosis, yet Brisebois pulled off a trade.
The Lightning traded Callahan to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goaltender Mike Condon and a 2020 sixth round pick. Immediately, this trade is a win for Brisebois, as he is able to avoid LTIR and save cap space. This is a worthwhile trade for the Sens as well, as it helps them reach the cap floor.
Cap space is at an ultimate premium for the Bolts this offseason as they attempt to sign Point while also having Adam Erne on their plate as well. This trade sets the stage for a Point contract, be it a team-friendly bridge deal or a long-term pact. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction without using LTIR.
The Lightning extended a franchise cornerstone in Andrei Vasilevskiy on Monday, yet there are many questions surrounding who will remain in the crease further down the depth chart. Louis Domingue solidified himself as a solid backup for years to come last season. That is until the Bolts went out and signed Curtis McElhinney to a two-year deal in the offseason. McElhinney was fantastic for the Hurricanes last season, posting a 20-11-2 record and and a .912 save percentage.
The Bolts crease becomes even more crowded by the likes of Scott Wedgewood and Spencer Martin in the AHL. One may have to move over, however, as it pays dividends for the Lightning to bury Condon in the minors. He has a cap hit of $2.4M if on the active roster. That figure drops to $1.33M if on the Crunch, giving the Lightning $10.1 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. That number jumps to $11.1 million if Domingue also gets sent to the AHL.
Condon’s tour of the NHL hits Tampa Bay. The 29-year-old has played 129 career NHL games over the past four seasons with the Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Montreal Canadiens. He posted a 45-58-17 record with a .905 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. After setting record highs in his first season as a Hab, Condon most recently recorded five shutouts and a 19-14-6 record with Ottawa during the 2016-17 season.
All Eyes on Point
After completing the Callahan task, the Lightning have nearly checked every box off their offseason checklist. That is except one bold faced, highlighted and underlined box called the Brayden Point signing. After a nifty trade here, the floor is yours, Brisebois. Tampa is waiting.
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