Woof what a tough year for the Lightning, sitting 6th in the Atlantic with just 62 points in 59 games this year has been the definition of a let down. The bolts, unless they go on a Columbus-esque run are not going to make the playoffs despite their Stanley Cup hopes in the beginning of the year. This team is built around one of the best Centers in the league in Stamkos (injured till april) and one of the best and underrated Defenseman in Hedman. TB has had some playoff success in the last three years but this was supposed to be the year with many pundits predicting them to win the Stanley cup. Stamkos only playing 17 games this year hasn’t helped but this team was supposed to be so good that really that isn’t as excuse. Their top goaltender, Ben Bishop, has not played well to start the year but seems to have turned things around as of late.
What are they? Sellers but not yet
Tampa Bay is the definition of average this year, sitting at a -3 goal differential they are 16th in goals per game, despite their 7th rated PP, and 16th in goals against, supported by their 15th on the PK. They have some really good players including Kucherov, Johnson, Drouin, Killorn, Palat, Boyle, and Stralman.
Tampa has too much to overcome to really be a player this year so they should definitely sell. They have a few UFAs who will be able to fetch some draft picks and they have some upcoming RFAs that are going to cost a lot of money this upcoming off-season. I predict that TB makes a few selling moves and then looks to move either some others near the trade deadline or giving them extensions.
Brian Boyle: This is the final year of his contract at $2MM, which is very affordable. He can play center or the wing. He is good on face offs and on the PK while also playing a physical playoff-esque game.
JT Brown: UFA after next year. He is only 26 but with big raises coming to Tyler Johnson, Palat, Drouin there is going to be cap issues in Tampa, they should move him now and get the best return possible.
Ryan Callahan: Signed for 4 more years at $5MM and currently injured Callahan is probably not going anywhere (he also has a NMC) this trade deadline.Tampa needs to go younger and the smart move would be to try and trade Callahan as soon as possible followed by extending their young studs.
They are also going to have to replace Ben Bishop in the off-season, so if someone comes calling they will move him at the deadline.
Anton Stralman is a phenomenal player who would command a lot at the deadline but would really get a team over the hump. He is signed for $4.5MM per year for two years following this one so don’t expect him to be moved, but if he is moved he will really command a lot of assets.