Tampa Bay appears to be open to shaking things up on their back end. Joe Smith of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that the team is open to moving defensemen Braydon Coburn and Slater Koekkoek and they have been discussing both players with other teams around the league. Youngster Erik Cernak has impressed in the preseason (although he was sent down earlier today to get them closer to compliance in advance of Tuesday’s roster deadline) and the Lightning may want to make some room for him to be more of a regular on the roster.
Coburn and Koekkoek are in two completely different situations. Coburn is in the final year of his contract that carries a $3.7MM cap hit and has not lived up to his contract thus far. Last season, he logged just 16 minutes per night, ranking sixth on the team in ice time by a defender. He can be serviceable in a third pairing role but is being paid to provide more than that. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tampa Bay had to pay down some of his contract to move him.
As for Koekkoek, the 24-year-old was up with the Lightning all of last season but spent considerable time as a healthy scratch and suited up in just 35 regular season games (and none in the postseason). He figures to be the seventh defenseman once again heading into the season so a change of scenery may not be the worst idea for the tenth pick back in 2012. He carries a cap hit of just $865K which other teams around the league would have an easier time to afford.
Tampa Bay’s season doesn’t get underway until Saturday so unlike some teams that will be pressing to make their moves over the next 48 hours or so, the Lightning can bide their time and wait a little longer to see if the right move presents itself for one of these rearguards.