Lightning Should Trade Tyler Johnson On Deadline Day
The Tampa Bay Lightning Are Looking for Some Moves to Make Before the Coming Trade Deadline. Though One Might Initially Jump to Say it, the Lightning Should trade Tyler Johnson Before the Deadline.
The Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves in unfamiliar territory as the trade deadline approaches. The Bolts were expected to compete for the Stanley Cup, but instead, they find themselves near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will likely realize he has to be a seller on deadline day, with the names Brian Boyle, Ben Bishop, and Valterri Filppula floating around the rumor mill, the Lightning will be able to shape their roster for next season while adding potential future assets.
One name that has recently popped up in the trade market is Tampa Bay’s center Tyler Johnson. Johnson will become a restricted free agent at season’s end and with the Lightning is salary cap hell, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep Johnson as well as fellow restricted free agents Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and Andrej Sustr.
Ideally, if the Lightning can move Valterri Filppula, who has one year remaining on his contract at $5 million, it would be easier to keep Johnson, Drouin, Palat and Sustr, but it’s unlikely.
We discussed the Lightning on my podcast; The Potratz Hockey Podcast
WHY MOVE JOHNSON NOW?
Deals for players like the 26-year-old Tyler Johnson normally don’t happen until the off-season, but Yzerman should move Johnson on deadline day for this one fact; he is a proven playoff performer.
Johnson had a solid rookie season putting up 50 points in 82 games and then kicked the dreaded sophomore slump to the curb with an outstanding 72-point season.
Last season, Johnson came back to reality and only scored 38 points in 69 games. So far this year he has a better, but still underwhelming 35 points in 56 games.
One look at Johnson’s playoff numbers and you have a player who plays at an elite level when the games matter. Johnson scored 23 points in 26 playoff games in the 2015 playoffs and he had 17 in 17 last year in the 2016 playoffs.
Johnson’s regular season points per game comes in at 0.67 and his playoff points per game comes in at 0.89.
Teams that are seeking additional scoring help would definitely be intrigued to acquire Johnson, considering they will also retain the rights to sign Johnson to an extension in the summer. This is not just a rental, this is an investment.
Another reason it makes sense for Yzerman to trade Johnson now is to be able to protect more players for expansion. The Lightning have to protect Stamkos, Callahan, Filppula and Hedman due to their No Movement Clause’s, and that limits who else they can keep. If the Lightning move Tyler Johnson, they will be able to protect Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin up front. While that leaves Vladislav Namestnikov, JT Brown and Tye McGinn exposed.
WHO SHOULD BE INTERESTED IN TYLER JOHNSON?
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The Montreal Canadiens have been rumored to be looking for center depth and have had their names come up in Matt Duchene and Martin Hanzal rumors. While the price for Duchene may be astronomical and Hanzal is a potential unrestricted free agent, they may want to look at Tyler Johnson.
The Anaheim Ducks may have fine center depth, they still lack scoring. Tyler Johnson can score, and the Ducks would have to do their due diligence and at least ask the Lightning.
The Ottawa Senators have been looking for additional scoring, and that search was probably amplified when Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels went down with injuries almost in succession.
The Nashville Predators are seeking center help and will be looking for a Mike Ribeiro (banished to the minors) replacement. The Preds are shifting into a more offensive club, and David Poile isn’t afraid to pull the trigger during the seasons on a deal.
WHAT WOULD JOHNSON COST?
Considering GM Steve Yzerman was asking for a 1st round pick in exchange for Brian Boyle and his expiring contract, a 1st round pick is a must. I’d expect Yzerman would also be looking for a good young player who is exempt from the upcoming expansion draft. There’s likely a third piece as well involved to acquire Johnson.
Here’s a hypothetical; would the Canadiens be more comfortable dealing Michael McCarron (expansion exempt), Nathan Beaulieu (meets a need for the Lightning) and a 1st round pick in exchange for Johnson? It’s a similar package that the Coyotes want for Martin Hanzal, but Hanzal could walk. Johnson could stay.
It’s expected that a lot of 1st round draft picks will move around the deadline because the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is expected to be a weak one, and a 1st round pick this year has the same value as a 2nd round pick next season.
It’s time for the Tampa Bay Lightning to take advantage of their status as sellers. They have good players with playoff experience and they can acquire future assets that can help them hit the reset button and compete for the Cup next season.
Tyler Johnson will fetch the best return and the time is NOW to move him. The Lightning have a lot of strong prospects in the pipeline that will be able to take Johnson’s place in a year or two, so now is the time to move him. Now. Today.
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