The Anaheim Ducks were getting close to the 50-contract limit after signing Jake Dotchin recently, so have decided to send Mitch Hults to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for future considerations. Hults was playing with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, and will now immediately report to the Syracuse Crunch.
One has to wonder if this trade has even more to do with the Dotchin situation, given that it was the Lightning who terminated his contract in training camp after he showed up overweight, but regardless Tampa Bay will add another prospect to their system. Hults doesn’t bring a ton of offensive upside to the table despite his strong numbers in the NCAA, and instead will add some size to the Crunch and give them a little more depth up front. As a rookie last year he did score 24 points in 53 games, but at this point it doesn’t look like he has a real NHL future.
Hults will turn 24 next month and went undrafted out of the USHL, though there was certainly interest in him coming out of college. Perhaps the Lightning’s development team can turn him into a worthwhile bottom-six player, but the first thing they’ll do is get him playing for the AHL squad. He becomes the 49th player under contract for the Lightning, meaning they’re closing in on handcuffing themselves when it comes to any college free agents this year. Though they still do have one spot, we may see them move another contract out at some point to free up room for waiver claims or free agent signings.