DAB Trade Series: Tampa Bay Lightning

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: The DAB Trade Series evaluates each NHL team to determine which player(s) from that team could potentially be on the New Jersey Devils’ radar to acquire via trade at or before the 2019 NHL Entry Draft or during the off-season. The articles and trade proposals herein are strictly the speculation of the individual writers.

The New Jersey Devils will look to add talent over the off-season, as the time for stockpiling picks and rebuilding has come to an end. The time for adding talent around its core young pieces and becoming competitive again has begun. In anticipation of a busy off-season for Devils’ general manager Ray Shero, the Devils Army Blog is excited to launch its Trade Series, which will analyze all 30 NHL teams to determine which players from each team that Shero and co. may target in a potential deal.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are fresh on the golf courses after a historic season saw that saw the team rack up 128 points during the regular season en route to the organization’s first Presidents’ Trophy. Ironically, the Bolts were swept out of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Following a disappointing first-round exit in the season that many expected the Cup to travel to Tampa in, it is entirely possible that the Lightning’s brass elect to change things up in the organization. Throw in the fact that the Bolts are less than $1.5 million away from the salary cap ceiling with only 24 players on their roster and four pending restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs), and you get a team that is going to be forced to make some moves to shed salary.

Who could the Devils have their sights set on if they seek a deal with the team that knocked them out of the 2018 playoffs? Let’s take a look…

Brayden Point

The 23-year-old stud has made a name for himself in the last few years, racking up 92 points (41g, 51a) in the 2018-19 campaign and has posted 198 points (91g, 107a) in his young NHL career (229 games). Point is one of the pending RFAs for the Bolts, who will likely be signed to a team-friendly deal due to his contract situation. He will, however, certainly demand a prettier penny than what the Bolts are able to give at the moment.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If the Lightning aren’t able to move players with bigger contracts like Ryan Callahan or Alex Killorn, the team may have to look to dish out Point. It should be noted that this is an extremely unlikely scenario and would cost the Devils an arm and a leg, but it would allow them to acquire a young player that immediately makes the Devils a better team. And it gives them flexibility for the future seeing as the team controls Point’s contract. The price for him will be high, likely costing at least a couple of high draft picks — including a first-round pick — plus a young prospect heading back to Tampa. Highly unlikely, but possible.

Ondrej Palat

The 28-year-old Czech winger has struggled with injuries year after year, but when healthy, he certainly generates the value that his contract has him pegged at. Lightning fans may cringe at the idea of moving Palat, but it is a far better alternative to them than losing a player like Point. With a contract worth $5.3 million for the next three seasons, it’s entirely possible that the Bolts deal the defensive forward out of desperation to free up cap space.

Palat has a veteran presence that could help the Devils’ young core, and he is versatile in the sense that he can slot into just about any role in the lineup. This would be especially helpful on special teams and late in games where the Devils hold a lead. Palat has a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he has a lot of say in where he ends up. He will have to want to come to Jersey to make that happen. In return, the Devils could likely send a second-round pick to the Bolts, but could also demand a pick or prospect from the Lightning as extra incentive to take on the hefty contract.

J.T. Miller

Larry Brooks of the New York Post speculated that the Lightning could look to move Miller, who has a $5.25 million contract for the next four seasons. Similar to Palat, the Lightning may have to give up someone very good to hang onto a younger talent whose potential is through the roof (Point). In this case, that someone very good is J.T. Miller. The former Rangers forward is also very versatile and can play at any forward position, is defensively responsible, and has an overall very well-rounded game. He could easily slot into the Devils’ top-6 and could give bigger shooters like Taylor Hall or Kyle Palmieri more room to fire knowing that Miller has their backs defensively if the play goes the opposite direction.

He’s only 26 and his modified-NTC kicks in on July 1 so the Bolts may be looking to dish him out for fair value at the draft while they can. He doesn’t put up a ton of points, but his overall game makes up for the value. Similar to the Palat situation, the Lightning may also be inclined to sweeten the deal with an extra draft pick in an effort to clear salary. It would probably cost the Devils their second-round pick in this year’s draft, a round that the Lightning do not have a pick in this year.

What do you think, Devils fans? Who would you like to see Jersey’s Team pluck from the Lightning? What would you give up?

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