The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t done after acquiring Brandon Hagel on Friday. Instead, they are continuing to bolster their forward corps. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report that the Bolts have traded for the Ottawa Senators’ Nick Paul. Going the other way is Tampa forward Mathieu Joseph and a 2024 fourth-round pick, per The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. The Senators are retaining 44.5% of Paul’s $1.35MM cap hit, approximately $601K. Both teams have confirmed the deal.
Even though the Bolts seemed to be out of options after adding Hagel, they manage to flip Joseph for Paul with a negligible impact on their difficult cap situation. With the salary retention, Paul will only cost about $749K, while Joseph was making $737.5K. It leaves under $5K in LTIR space for Tampa, but space all the same. That retention is likely what cost the Lightning their draft pick, which leaves them with just seven picks in the first four rounds over the next three years.
In many ways it may seem like swapping Joseph, a 25-year-old impending RFA with 18 points, for Paul, a 27-year-old impending UFA with 18 points, seems like a downgrade. However, Joseph is arbitration eligible this offseason and was unlikely to return to Tampa Bay anyway. He also has managed just 18 points with the high-flying Lightning, while Paul has done the same with the lowly Senators. Paul also brings a superior defensive game and more experience. His two-way ability garnered attention from around the league, but the Lightning were the lucky ones to land him and Paul will be equally excited to chase a championship and boost his numbers before hitting the open market.