TAMPA — Steve Yzerman knew the timing again was awful; knew he again was going to disrupt the emotional balance of the locker room.
Yzerman even admitted trading right wing Steve Downie to the Avalanche was in the short term "maybe one step backwards;" not the best message for a team fighting for its playoff life.
But the Lightning general manager, with visions of draft picks dancing in his head, did it anyway as part of a three-team deal in which he primarily acquired a 2012 first-round draft pick from the Red Wings.
It was one of three trades Yzerman made Tuesday and one of five in the past six days. And with the Downie deal announced hours before Tampa Bay defeated the Ducks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, it also was the third straight game day in which a front-line player was traded.
The payoff: a stockpile of picks in the June draft that includes two first-rounders and up to four second-rounders, more than enough to perhaps use to trade for the No. 1 goalie he so covets.
Still, "I don't know if there is ever a perfect time to do it," said Yzerman, who on Thursday sent center Dominic Moore to the Sharks and on Saturday defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Flyers.
"I'm trading players and popular players for draft picks. These moves are made for the future. My only message is I'm going to do what I feel is necessary to be a Stanley Cup contender, and I think these moves help us get going in that direction."
The Downie trade highlighted a tumultuous day in which it also was announced captain Vinny Lecavalier will be out indefinitely with a non-displaced fracture in his right hand.
The team also made a minor-league deal with Chicago for left wing Brandon Segal and called up forward Mike Angelidis from AHL Noroflk.
Yzerman is walking a tightrope between planning for the future and not throwing under the bus a team with a shot at the playoffs.
"The message it sends to our players is we want to win a Stanley Cup," Yzerman said of his moves.
And that is what drove the Downie deal that brought from Colorado defenseman Kyle Quincey, who then was shipped to Detroit for the first-round pick and minor-league defenseman Sebastien Piche.
Yzerman admitted the trade "is maybe one step backwards when we trade players off our roster for draft picks, but it puts us ahead in the long run."
As Yzerman looked at the big picture, players saw the loss of a popular teammate, not to mention the best friend of star Steven Stamkos.
"You just try to take it as professional and business-like as possible," said Stamkos, who joined teammates Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell and Brett Clark in the players' parking lot as Downie's bon voyage committee. "Everyone knows how much he meant to out team and how close he was to everyone."
"I don't know what Steve's plans are," Stamkos added. "We believe in him. Obviously, he's done a lot for this organization. … It's just really unfortunate we have to lose not only Downs but Mooresey and Kuby because ultimately we didn't start the year the way we wanted to. It's tough not to blame yourself as well."
Yzerman said, "I don't expect to be incredibly busy" before Monday's trade deadline, partly, he joked, because "we're running out of bodies."
Even so, he added, "Any situation that comes along through the trade deadline to the offseason we're willing to look at.
"These draft picks give us options. They don't help today, no question, but, again, my goal is to win a Stanley Cup here. We have to do some difficult things to do that."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]
Five trades in six days
>> Thursday: C Dominic Moore and a 2012 seventh-round draft pick to the Sharks for a 2012 second-round pick.
>> Saturday: D Pavel Kubina to the Flyers for a second-round draft pick in 2012 or '13 (conditional from Panthers), a 2013 fourth-round pick and LW Jon Kalinski (assigned to AHL Norfolk).
>> Tuesday: RW Steve Downie to the Avalanche for D Kyle Quincey; Quincey to the Red Wings for a 2012 first-round pick and D Sebastien Piche (assigned to ECHL Florida); Norfolk F Mike Fornataro to the Blackhawks for F Brandon Segal (assigned to AHL Norfolk).