TAMPA — The Lightning moved a step closer toward solving their salary-cap issues Tuesday night by trading veteran forward Tyler Johnson to the Blackhawks.
Tampa Bay sent Johnson and a second-round pick in the 2023 draft to Chicago for defenseman Brent Seabrook.
With the deal, the Lightning will create about $5 million in salary-cap space without taking on additional salary. Seabrook, who missed the entire 2020-21 season with a hip injury, will be placed on long-term injury reserve for the remainder of his contract, which goes through 2024.
Johnson had a modified no-trade clause in his contract and Chicago was on his list of acceptable destinations. Seabrook waived his no-trade clause to help make the deal possible.
Johnson, 30, holds a special place in the organization’s heart. He spent his entire career with the Lightning, and his days with head coach Jon Cooper date back 2012, when they won the Calder Cup championship together with AHL Norfolk before going on to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with the Lightning.
“I’d like to personally thank Tyler for what he has meant to this organization over the past nine years since he joined the Lightning as an undrafted free agent,” general manager Julien BriseBois said in a news release. “He played a pivotal role in the success the team has enjoyed and will forever be remembered as a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Bolts.”
Johnson accumulated 161 goals and 200 assists over nine seasons in Tampa Bay. Only captain Steven Stamkos (13 seasons) and defenseman Victor Hedman (12) have been with the Lightning longer.
Part of the “Triplets Line” with Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, Johnson scored 72 points (29 goals, 43 assists) during the 2014-15 regular season and added 13 goals and 10 assists during the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup final, where they fell to the Blackhawks.
He followed with a 17-point postseason in 2015-16 as the Lightning advanced to the Eastern Conference final before losing to the Penguins.
Johnson’s role was considerably different this past season.
After winning the Stanley Cup in September, the Lightning tried to move Johnson and his $5 million salary to help get under the salary cap. When trade talks were unsuccessful, the Lightning placed him on waivers to start the season. He was on the taxi squad when the team unveiled its championship banner at its home opener in January.
But the Lightning saw no takers and Johnson returned to the roster, moving up and down the lineup. After playing alongside Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli on the second line during the regular season, he accepted a role on the fourth line, between Pat Maroon and Ross Colton, after Nikita Kucherov returned for the playoffs.
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Though he saw less ice time, Johnson made some significant contributions during the Lightning’s run to a second consecutive Cup, assisting on the opening goal in the series-clinching win over the Panthers in the first round and scoring the game-tying goal in Game 4 of the second round against the Hurricanes.
Here’s what some on Twitter had to say about the trade:
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