It was a successful trade deadline for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who moved Valtteri Filppula, Brian Boyle and Ben Bishop out of town to create cap space for this season and beyond. The team finds themselves just three points back of a playoff spot after Nikita Kucherov’s disgusting shootout winner, and is right in the thick of the race as the season comes into its final stretch.
Just because the deadline is over though, doesn’t mean Steve Yzerman can relax. He still has quite a bit of work ahead of him to sort out the cap issues the Lightning will face this summer reports Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. With Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson all needing big raises (that are getting bigger as the playoffs get closer), the team will likely have to move out even more salary at some point. Smith points to the Nashville Predators as a natural trading partner for the team, and that they scouted each other heavily leading up to the deadline.
- Ryan Callahan may miss the rest of the season, but there is optimism he’ll be ready for next year. The latest hip procedure was not to repair a labrum tear like originally reported, but just to clean up a scar tissue issue that was impacting his movement. Smith quotes Bryan Kelly, the surgeon who performed both operations: “There’s no reason to think [players who go through this procedure] couldn’t go back to play.” Callahan has three years remaining on his current contract at $5.8MM per season.
- Though Smith’s article is enlightening on many subjects, he drops a bombshell in the notes at the bottom. Smith “would not be stunned” to see Steven Stamkos back at practice with the team this week. Stamkos has been out since the middle of November, but has recently returned to the ice for his own workouts. The idea that he would be back at practice with his teammates would be a huge step towards his recovery, and makes the Lightning a team to watch down the stretch. Even without one of the greatest goal scorers in the league they’ve climbed their way back into the playoff picture, imagine what they can do when their captain returns.