TAMPA — The Lightning is no stranger to making moves at the trade deadline.
Among the most notable: A year ago, it traded for defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller. Two years ago, it acquired defenseman Erik Cernak and goalie Peter Budaj for goalie Ben Bishop. Six years ago, it swapped forward Marty St. Louis for forward Ryan Callahan.
With the Feb. 25 trade deadline on the horizon, here are some questions to consider about the Lightning this year.
What does the Lightning need?
At the moment, scoring, but Tampa Bay doesn’t need to trade for that. It just needs to work its way out of the goal slump of the past nine games.
The usual answer is more physicality. General manager Julien BriseBois could look for a physical forward. Canada’s TSN TV network reported that the Lightning had inquired about the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds and the Hurricanes’ Michael Ferland. Tampa Bay has held its own in some very physical games recently. So, though it wouldn’t hurt, more physicality is not necessarily a must.
What does the Lightning have to trade?
Tampa Bay has 14 forwards and seven defensemen.
It’s currently starting Mathieu Joseph, Adam Erne and Cedric Paquette on its fourth line, with Callahan the odd-man out. Defensively, it has seven players for six starting spots. Most often, Cernak, Braydon Coburn, Mikhail Sergachev and Dan Girardi rotate in and out of three spots.
There is the possibility of trading a bottom-six forward or a defenseman.
The healthy scratches are not exactly scrubs. And depth is valuable in a playoff run.
What about draft picks? This year Tampa Bay has either a first- or a second-round pick, not both, conditional from the McDonagh-Miller trade with the Rangers. With a Lightning Stanley Cup win, the Rangers get the first. Otherwise it’s the second. The Lightning also has one pick each in Rounds 3, 4 and 6, and two in Round 7. In 2020, the Lightning has a pick in each round to play with.
A note on no-trade/no-movement clauses: Many Lightning players have one of the two, but some of those players can submit a list of teams they could be dealt to.
Does the Lightning have the space to add without subtracting?
The roster limit opens up after the trade deadline, so that’s a plus for a team with 14 forwards and seven defensemen it likes. Cross that concern off the list.
As for the salary cap, the Lightning is okay there, too. Because the cap is calculated daily and cap space can be used (in part) later, Tampa Bay has $7,953,300 to work with, according to the cap website CapFriendly.
Does the Lightning need to do anything?
Short answer: No.
The Lightning is in a good place. Even if it isn’t winning at the rate it did a month ago, it is still a strong team. It doesn’t have glaring holes. It doesn’t have much of a wish list and could do perfectly well standing pat.