PITTSBURGH — Despite being hamstrung by the salary cap and light on trade assets, the Lightning found a player ahead of Friday’s deadline that fit general manager Julien BriseBois’ desire to bulk up his team defensively and make it tougher to play against.
After watching its counterparts in the Eastern Conference acquire big names during an active trade season, Tampa Bay on Sunday acquired from Nashville Tanner Jeannot, a 25-year-old power forward who will bring sandpaper to the lineup and who can be a restricted free agent after this season.
The Lightning found a way to fit Jeannot under the salary cap by sending defenseman Cal Foote, a 2017 first-round draft pick, to Nashville. But they paid a heavy price in draft-pick inventory. The Lightning also sent five picks to the Predators: their 2025 first-round selection (though it is top-10 protected), their 2024 second-round pick, and this year’s third-, fourth- and fifth-round picks.
In his second full NHL season, Jeannot hasn’t been able to duplicate his offensive production from last season, when he led all rookies with 24 goals to go with 17 assists. But despite just five goals and nine assists in 56 games this season, he remains a player who can station himself in front of the net and create scoring opportunities. The dip in his offensive production can be traced to a shot percentage that dropped from 19.4 percent to 5.7.
Perhaps more important to the Lightning, especially heading into the physical grind of the postseason, is the physical edge that Jeannot brings. He plays a heavy puck-possession game and isn’t afraid to drop his gloves, giving the Lightning another enforcer-type to join Pat Maroon. Jeannot led the league with 13 fights last season. He also led the Predators with 213 hits and was first among Nashville forwards with 51 blocked shots this season.
The Lightning had just around $719,000 of cap space, which is less than the $750,000 league minimum. But Jeannot carried an $800,000 cap hit for this season, which is $50,000 less than Foote’s hit, so they actually picked up more cap room in the deal.
Jeannot is controllable through the 2023-24 season. He can be a restricted free agent after this season with arbitration eligibility and must be made a qualifying offer of $892,500. Much like last year’s deadline deals for Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel, this move was made with an eye to supplement the Lightning’s mid-20s core.
The trade does leave the Lightning’s draft-pick-inventory even more bare. They don’t have a pick this summer until the sixth round and have no first-round picks until 2026 and no second-rounder until 2025. But as BriseBois said last month in his midseason media availability, his focus is to take advantage of the Lightning’s current window to compete for championships while the team has so many players in their prime.
“A lot of good people did a lot of quality work for us to curate this talent, and there was luck involved, too,” he said. “I know all that went into that, and I know how much of that is also good fortune. We need to make the most of that opportunity, because it doesn’t happen very often that you’re going to have this much talent, and you have to make the most of that opportunity.”
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