Looking back at the Tampa Bay Lightning's trade of Brad Richards to the Stars
With Brad Richards back in town with the Stars (and hanging out till Wednesday as the team does some player bonding with fishing and golf in the Tampa Bay area), thought it would be a good time to look back at the Tampa Bay Lightning's February 2008 trade of Richards to Dallas.
Here was the deal: Richards and goaltender Johan Holmqvist for goaltender Mike Smith, forwards Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick. Richards, after dealing with injuries and the emotional fallout of leaving Tampa, where he still has a home, has been quite productive for Dallas. His 91 points last season were seventh in the league, and he enters Tuesday second in the league with 10 points and tied for the league lead with eight assists.
As for the Lightning, Smith is still around, but Halpern was traded to the Kings last season for Teddy Purcell and a 2010 third-round draft pick that turned into defenseman Brock Beukeboom. The 2009 fourth-round pick acquired from Dallas went to the Wild for the negotiating rights to Brian Rolston (remember the Lightning could not sign him before the 2008 free agency period). And Jussi Jokinen was traded in February 2009 to the Hurricanes for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick that became part of the deal that sent goaltender Olaf Kolzig and defensemen Jamie Heward and Andy Rogers to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Richard Petiot. Neither Brookbank, Melichar nor Petiot are with the organization and Jokinen has been a pretty productive player for the Hurricanes.
So, finally, what did the Lightning, after all the permutations, reap from the trade? Smith, Purcell, who is a solid third-line player and is on the second power-play unit, and prospect Beukeboom. You also could say the team saved a lot of money by unloading Richards' five-year, $39 million contract, some of which surely went to sign Dan Boyle, though we really don't have to get into that trade again, do we?
Which brings us to Smith, who is 3-0-0 for the first time in his career but had a rough outing in Monday's 5-4 victory over the Stars as he allowed four goals on 19 shots. At last two of the goals he should have stopped. He also has an .869 save percentage and a 3.41 goals-against average. Actually, Dan Ellis isn't much better with a 4.00 goals-against average and an .878 save percentage. Combined, Tampa Bay's goaltending is third worst in the league with a 3.55 goals-against average.
Smith has called this season the most important in his career. He is in the final season of a two-year, $4.4 million deal, and he knows he has yet to establish whether he can carry the load of a No. 1. There's still a long way to go.