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Trade time? Tampa Bay Lightning might have its eye on Philly's Simon Gagne



The Lightning apparently has interest in acquiring Flyers left wing Simon Gagne. It’s tough to tell how serious it is because no one within the organization has said so publicly, but it would be naïve to believe otherwise.

Put another way, why wouldn’t Tampa Bay at least inquire about a proven goals and points producer who is being shopped by a team desperate to clear cap space? And to put it even ANOTHER way: Why wouldn’t general manager Steve Yzerman be salivating over the possibility of having his top two lines be (left to right) Gagne-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Steve Downie?

Acquiring Gagne, 30, who in the past three seasons in which he was healthy scored 47, 41 and 34 goals, would make the Lightning automatic playoff contenders. It would spike ticket sales. It would make Tampa Bay relevant again in a market where it has been the butt of jokes the past two years. And, besides, what’s the harm in a little short-term gain while Yzerman decides what direction to take the team in the future?

Gagne has only one season remaining on a contract that will pay $5.25 million, so the team would not be locked in to anything long term. Given the Lightning is about $14 million under the $59.4 million salary cap (assuming forwards Adam Hall, Johan Harju and Niklas Persson make the team), it has room to maneuver.

The caution is Gagne’s history of injuries. He missed 24 games last season with groin and abdominal-muscle problems that required surgery and four playoff games with a broken toe. It should be noted, though, Gagne still had 17 goals and 40 points in 58 regular-season games, and nine goals and 12 points in 19 playoff games.

But Gagne also had double hernia surgery after the 2006-07 season, played just 25 games in 2007-08 with concussion issues, and had hip surgery after 2008-09. On the other hand, he has 259 goals and 524 points in 664 NHL games, and, boy, could Lecavalier use a scoring wing on his line, something he hasn’t had for the better part of two seasons.

So, let’s assume Yzerman makes a move. What can he give back? Philadelphia is not looking to take on a lot of salary, so the Lightning likely would not include any of its major assets. But it does have eight defensemen with one-way contracts, so there is depth there from which to deal. The organization also is deep in attractive, high-end goaltending prospects. There also are the obligatory draft choices.

Then the question is, does Gagne, who has a no-trade clause, want to come to a rebuilding team? But if Gagne signed on, wouldn’t that time line get a little shorter?    

[Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 12:15am]


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