With the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, the Tampa Bay Lightning likely find themselves as buyers for the third straight year. With the team going 9-2-1 in January, they put themselves in a prime position to make a run at the playoffs and attempt to avenge their collapse one year ago.
While they already have a strong roster full of talent, the Lightning shouldn’t stand pat for the second deadline in a row, however. Right now, the team has a few preventative needs that they could address by bringing in a rental or two to help shore up their already strong lineup.
Even if Tampa Bay could spend big at the deadline, they shouldn’t. Sure, the sexy move would be to go after a top-tier name like Chris Kreider, but that would be a costly trade that they really should only make if it’s a perfect fit.
So, with this in mind, what-players could Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois look into acquiring at the deadline that won’t break the bank but could still add something useful to their roster for the playoffs?
Alex Galchenyuk: Low Risk, High Reward
For the better part of the last three seasons, Alex Galchenyuk has seemingly been on the trade market. Despite entering the league as a top-three draft pick, he has struggled to establish himself as a true-star, causing him to be traded by the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes over the last year and a half.
For the 2019-20 season, Galchenyuk is playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he has done very little to impress. With just 16 points in 42 games, there’s little reason to believe that he would be worth much on the trade market, especially given his fairly large $4.9 million cap hit.
Due to this, the Lightning would likely be able to acquire Galchenyuk from the Penguins for little more than a late-round draft pick. This would give Tampa Bay a veteran forward on the cheap who still has the potential to make a difference in the playoffs.
If things go perfectly, Galchenyuk could find his scoring potential alongside the Lightning’s top-talents, providing the team with needed depth for a potentially deep playoff run. If things don’t work out, then he could sit in the press box without much loss, as he is an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Mike Green: A Veteran Defensive Option
If BriseBois heads into the trade deadline feeling the need to add a defenseman, his options are fairly limited if he’s not looking to spend big. Due to a deluge of injuries, defensemen will likely be a hot commodity this season, driving up trade value.
With this in mind, the Lightning may find it useful to acquire a veteran rental like Mike Green from the Detroit Red Wings, especially if they would retain some salary. If he stays healthy, Green could be that perfect veteran defenseman to help shore up the Lightning’s top-six should injury strike the team.
While his statistics this season are bad due to the Red Wings’ abysmal season, getting the chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup may rejuvenate Green’s career throughout the playoffs. Given the fact that he is averaging close to 21 minutes of ice-time right now, it’s possible that he could even flourish in a reduced role with the Lightning.
Given that Green is in the final season of a two-year contract he signed with Detroit, the Lightning can easily walk away from him in the offseason if he struggles to find a role with the franchise. And, if he were to excel, he could likely be signed to a short-term deal if Tampa Bay felt like they needed more depth at the position for the future.
Lightning Could Make a Low-Risk Gamble
When it comes right down to it, the Lightning acquiring either Galchenyuk or Green would be a trade for the sake of a trade rather than need. On paper, the franchise has enough depth to make a deep playoff run with their current roster.
However, should they decide to add something at the deadline, they could do worse than adding a veteran rental like Green or Galchenyuk. Either player would be relatively low-risk when compared to other options available, and they could pay off massively if everything goes right for the franchise.