The Tampa Bay Lightning had two chances to acquire superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson to their lineup and while many still feel that they should have gone out and paid the price to bring one more superstar into their lineup, The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) looks back and feels the team should be thankful it didn’t do that when it had the chance.
While the Lightning seriously considered trading with Ottawa at the trade deadline and then again in the offseason, the team opted to go a cheaper route and bring in defenseman Ryan McDonagh. That trade was critical, according to Smith, who writes has been crucial to the team’s penalty kill, which was 28th in the league at the time of the trade last season. While he doesn’t contribute as much offensively, that’s one area of the game that Tampa Bay doesn’t need help on.
The scribe also points out that the team would have been forced to move Mikhail Sergachev in any deal to acquire Karlsson, and while the youngster has had an up-and-down season so far this year, the team still views Sergachev as a top-four defenseman and a key piece to the Lightning’s long-term future.
- Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes that Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck is ahead of schedule in his rehab on his fractured right ankle that he suffered on Nov. 11. The 25-year-0ld returned to the ice both Friday and Saturday. “It was encouraging,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “I talked to him and asked him how it was to be on the ice [Friday] and he said he was a little sore during the day, but he woke up real good today, so that’s a good sign after his first skate.” Boughner said that Trocheck definitely won’t be back until after the all-star break, but much will depend on how he feels with each step in his recovery.
- Despite never having any success next to David Krejci, Boston Bruins forward David Backes filled in on the team’s second line alongside Krejci and Jake Debrusk and showed that he might be the answer to their team’s hole there, according to NHL.com’s Joe Haggerty. Backes scored the game-winning goal against Buffalo Saturday and looked like the perfect linemate after the team has cycled through Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen all failed to succeed there. The 34-year-old has seen his offense decline over the years from a 30-goal threat to a 14-goal season a year ago. With just four goals this season, the team would be thrilled if Backes could contribute in a top-six role in the future.
- That report comes a day after Haggerty’s report that the Bruins have expressed interest in acquiring Brayden Schenn from St. Louis. While Haggerty writes that the team has shown considerable interest in Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle, the scribe writes that Schenn would be a much more intriguing option to fill the hole on the second line. While the 27-year-old center’s numbers have been down this year with just eight goals and 23 points, he is coming off a 28-goal, 70-point season last year and could be a big addition to a Bruins team if they opt to go out and get him.