A trade deadline primer
Don't expect any windfalls from trades as Wednesday's deadline approaches because the Lightning is not expected to deal any of its big-name players. Most likely to go are wings Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts. Center Jeff Halpern also is a possibility, but because he is so well-liked by coach Rick Tocchet and because next season's $2-million salary is so cap friendly, the price would really have to be right.
The Lightning's priorities at the trade deadline are draft picks. Prospects are second. It makes sense as the entire organization needs depth. Consider that the current roster has only six players who were drafted since 1999; goaltender Karri Ramo, defensemen Paul Ranger and Matt Smaby and forwards Steven Stamkos, Ryan Craig and Evgeny Artyukhin. And if the team were healthy, Ramo might in the minors.
Given that Tampa Bay will have a very high draft pick this year, GM Brian Lawton believes this is a perfect time to augment the current draft choices, which include a first, two seconds, two fourths, a sixth (from Nashville that will jump to a fifth if Nick Tarnasky plays 55 games), and a seventh.
As Lawton said, "This is an opportunity to increase what we have here. It's an opportunity to add in what is a very deep draft."
Here are a few player snapshots.
Vinny Lecavalier: If the Lightning is to trade its captain before his no-move clause kicks in on July 1, it more likely will happen over the summer. That is when teams which may not want to reshape themselves during a playoff run will be more willing to give up the substantial package necessary for the Lightning to claim a winning transaction.
Marty St. Louis: The Lightning has an interesting equation to consider this summer. The right wing has become an off-ice leader and is still an offensive spark plug. But he will be 34 in June. Is he more valuable to the team as a player or for what he could bring in return before his skills begin to slip?
Mark Recchi: The most likely to be traded at the deadline because he is a potential unrestricted free agent and because of the value he could bring in return. The right wing has 13 goals and is third on the team with 40 points. At 41, he still is a great skater and has the experience of winning two Stanley Cups.
Gary Roberts: The 42-year-old Cup winner has proved he can still affect a game with his tenacity and toughness. If it is his final season, Tampa Bay would not want to lose him for nothing.
Jeff Halpern: Tocchet loves his professionalism, leadership and commitment to both sides of the puck. Someone might be willing to overpay.
Marek Malik: A potential unrestricted free agent, the defenseman could bring patience with the puck. But he is slow-footed and an ankle injury hasn't helped.
Vinny Prospal: He would be a good addition to a playoff team. But given he has three years left on a four-year, $14-million deal, and that he has underperformed with 15 goals, 38 points and at minus-14, the left wing will be difficult to move.
Matt Pettinger: The left wing is a good skater and a potential unrestricted free agent. Could add depth to a payoff team and would cost only a mid- to low-round draft choice.
Steven Stamkos: Are you kidding?