TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris Trophy winner?
There were conflicting reports about whether a trade was close to being done late Thursday. Nothing was imminent Friday.
There have been reports of a third team being involved in talks, in part to facilitate the salary-cap maneuvering the Lightning would need to do to add Karlsson, 28, who is entering the final year of his contract and can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
That suggests the Lightning would lose a combination of prospects and a roster player (or two) whose salary would need to be dropped. Who's untouchable? What kind of package might it take to get Karlsson? Here's a look at some of the biggest names who could be involved.
The defenseman's name is probably the one you hear most as the asking price from Ottawa. Sergachev, who turned just 20 last week, was acquired in the Jonathan Drouin trade with the Canadiens last summer and impressed as a rookie last season. The Lightning decided in February that Ottawa's asking price was too high when Karlsson was an option at the trade deadline, so you'd think it is still trying to make a deal without giving up such a major long-term asset.
If Sergachev is the piece the Senators want, step back a year and think of it as trading Drouin for Karlsson. That seems like a big net gain for Tampa Bay. But for many fans, Sergachev can't be include for the trade to be more than a win-now all-in deal.
The wing's name has come up as a salary the Lightning could give up to make room for Karlsson. He's due to make $5.8 million a year with two seasons left on his contract. He is 33, wears an "A" on his jersey as an alternate captain and has been a central player since he was acquired in the Marty St. Louis trade four years ago. He's due to miss the start of next season recovering from shoulder surgery.
The center's no-trade clause kicked in July 1, so he'd have to approve any deal that included him. Johnson is 27 and hasn't been the scoring force he was three years ago, when the Lightning reached the Stanley Cup final, but is still a consistent scorer and fan favorite. He is under contract for six more years at $5 million a year.
The Lightning's 2017 first-round draft pick is only 19 and hasn't played in the NHL, but the defenseman would be considered one of the team's top prospects. He's imposing at 6 feet 4 and isn't far from playing in the NHL, but Tampa Bay has eight defensemen under contract for 2018-19, so his arrival in Tampa Bay would be more likely a year from now, after key veteran defensemen finish their contracts.
The Lightning gave up its 2018 first-round pick and 2016 first-rounder Brett Howden in the deal for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller last season. So dealing Foote would mean the past three first-round picks had been traded for a chance to win it all short term.
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.