TAMPA — The Lightning’s second trade this week had less to do with parting ways with disappointing forward Vladislav Namestnikov and was more of a firm declaration that general manager Julien BriseBois was far from finished making moves as Friday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline draws nearer.
BriseBois found a partner willing to take Namestnikov, and half of his salary, in the stripped-down Sharks, who already had traded top forward Timo Meier in what has been a wild trade season. The Lightning received 26-year-old forward Michael Eyssimont, who for now will replace Namestnikov as the team’s 13th forward.
With San Jose taking 50 percent of Namestnikov’s $2.5 million cap hit, the Lightning have about $1.27 million of cap space, according to CapFriendly.com. Before the Lightning acquired forward Tanner Jeannot on Sunday, in a trade with Nashville for defenseman Cal Foote and five draft picks, they had just around $719,000 of space, less than the $750,000 league minimum.
Namestnikov struggled in his return to the Lightning after signing a one-year deal in the offseason, netting just six goals and 15 points in 57 games. The 30-year-old former Tampa Bay first-round pick (2011) was well-liked in the locker room and a fan favorite, but he couldn’t duplicate the success that make him attractive to the Lightning after averaging 16 goals and 37 points over his previous six seasons.
And after shifting between the bottom two lines, Namestnikov became the odd man out once the Lightning acquired Jeannot to play on the third line with Ross Colton and Nick Paul.
In Eyssimont, the Lightning get a gritty bottom-six forward who had also struggled to find his place. The 26-year-old had three goals and five assists in 20 games with the Sharks after San Jose claimed him off waivers from Winnipeg on Jan. 6.
He was benched in the second period of San Jose’s loss to Montreal on Tuesday night after taking a minor penalty in his third straight game and four of his last six.
Eyssimont, who carries a $750,000 cap hit, is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent after this season. So the team can keep him under control for another year if they make a $787,500 qualifying offer in the offseason.
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