The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired veteran defenseman Mark Streit from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for another veteran, center Valtteri Filppula. Streit is an impending free agent, while Filppula has another year remaining at $5MM and had to accept this trade to Philadelphia. The Lightning will also send a 2017 fourth-round pick and conditional 2017 seventh-round pick to Philly. The Flyers will retain 4.7% of Streit’s contract.
The trade is really centered around Tampa Bay’s salary cap crunch and Expansion Draft scenario. Filppula’s No-Movement Clause made him automatically protected in the draft, which put pressure on both Tampa’s expansion decisions and 2017-18 payroll. By moving Filppula and the final year of his five-year, $5MM contract, the Lightning have had many of those issues alleviated. Rather than choosing who they wanted to leave exposed or which restricted free agent they couldn’t sign, Yzerman will now have more flexibility in his maneuvers.
However, there is certainly a trade-0ff in talent. Filppula is still an effective NHL contributor, with 34 points this season, and joins a talented group of forwards in Philadelphia who may be in need of a strong veteran presence to turn their season around or, at least, to help them get back into shape next season. The Flyers had the cap space and expansion situation to acquire Filppula, and were one of the few teams who could, which explains why the cheap price of 39-year-old Streit was enough to get the deal done and why Tampa sent over draft picks as well. Streit is still a good puck-mover, but his production has dropped off significantly. The Lightning are outside of the playoffs right now, and Streit won’t hurt their chances, but trading away Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle, and now Filppula shows that the postseason is not the primary focus of the team right now.