Lightning get defensemen for playoff run

By Ken Filler
Feb. 28, 2018

It was 2:55 PM on Monday afternoon and the Lightning had yet to make a deal that would make them a better team to make a deep playoff run. With the trade deadline fast approaching, Steve Yzerman pulled the trigger at 2:59 PM and the Lightning got a couple of pieces that they think can help them bring the Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay.

Yzerman was able to acquire defensemen Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers along with forward JT Miller in exchange for Vladislav Namenstikov, prospects Brett Howden and Libor Hajek and a couple of draft picks. A first rounder in 2018, and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2019, which becomes a first rounder if the Lightning make it to the Stanley Cup final.

So how does this impact the Lightning? Well, the team gets a top four defensemen that it has been craving since last season, McDonagh is a top four shut down defensemen that can play on the PP and PK. McDonagh is averaging over 23 minutes of ice time and has 2g and 26a in 49 games. McDonagh is currently out with an upper body injury and the Lightning said today he may miss another 5-7 days. McDonagh could be ready to go by March 8th when his old team the New York Rangers will be in Tampa. McDonagh is also signed through 2019 at a very cap friendly 4.7 million.

With the pick-up of McDonagh, the Lightning have eight defensemen on the roster. I can’t imagine the team carrying that many defensemen. Seven is the norm. Someone will have to go. Coburn, Koekkoek or Jake Dotchin are the likely candidates.

JT Miller should be able to step in and replace the offensive ouput of Namenstikov. You hate to lose a talent like Namenstikov, but as Yzerman said, you have to give up something to get a good return. Miller has good size and speed. He is 6-1 218 and can play center and forward. Miller has 13g and 27a on the season.

Miller is also very good at faceoffs, an area the Lightning have struggled in all season. Miller is 54.29% on winning faceoffs and immediately becomes one of the best on the team. Miller may play on the third line with Tyler Johnson and Ryan Callahan.

This trade makes the Lightning a better team. However, there is no guarantee that these moves will ensure the Lightning a Stanley Cup. But I like their chances a lot more after this trade.

—Nikita Kucherov suffered an upper body injury against Toronto on Monday Night. It was not believed to be a serious injury and he is 50/50 for the game against Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Tyler Johnson was seen walking with a limp after the game on Monday night. The team released no details on the Johnson injury and he will be evaluated on Wednesday.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports