TAMPA — The Lightning’s salary cap crunch may prevent them from being major players leading up to next month’s trade deadline, but Tampa Bay made a minor move Wednesday night, trading forward Alexander Volkov to the Ducks.
The Lightning received forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round draft pick in 2023 from the Ducks.
Volkov, 23, played in 19 games for the Lightning this season, recording two goals and three assists while averaging 9:32 of ice time on the fourth line. Last season, the Russian played in the Lightning’s Stanley Cup-clinching Game 6 win over the Stars, logging 9:34 of ice time in the 2-0 win.
“This trade provides us with some salary cap flexibility in the short term to play different players and provides us with some insurance against having to dress only five defensemen in the event we have multiple short-term injuries to some of our regular defensemen,” general manager Julien BriseBois said in a statement.
After Volkov played a season-high 13:08 in the Lightning’s season opener against the Blackhawks on Jan. 13, his playing time was erratic. In seven of the Lightning’s past nine games, he was a healthy scratch.
His playing time was most affected by the emergence of rookie Ross Colton, who has quickly meshed well on the fourth line since making his debut Feb. 24. And with speedy forward Mathieu Joseph also playing well on the fourth line alongside gritty veteran Pat Maroon, and with Mitchell Stephens, who centered the fourth line for the first four games, nearing a return from a lower-body injury, Volkov was the odd-man out.
“With more cap space, I would have liked to hold on to Alex,” BriseBois said. “But considering how tight we are against the salary cap, and with Mitch Stephens coming back in the not-too-distant future, something had to give.”
Morand was the Ducks’ second-round pick in 2017. The 22-year-old has no goals and five assists in 20 games with AHL San Diego this season. Last season, he had five goals and 11 assists in 54 games with San Diego.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
• • •
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.