Official now, the Tampa Bay Lightning have nabbed one of the best rentals on the market. The team has acquired David Savard as part of a three-team deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings.
- To Lightning: David Savard, Brian Lashoff
- To Blue Jackets: 2021 first-round pick (TBL), 2022 third-round pick (TBL)
- To Red Wings: 2021 fourth-round pick (TBL)
Columbus and Detroit will both be retaining part of Savard’s $4.25MM cap hit. Columbus retained 50% of the contract in the first deal with Detroit, and then the Red Wings retained an additional 50% of what remained. That leaves the Lightning carrying just 25% of the $4.25MM, or $1.0625MM.
Three picks may seem like a lot to give up for a player on an expiring contract, but it was required in order to facilitate the salary retention. The Lightning now add a top-four defenseman that they can fit into their tight salary cap structure. GM Julien BriseBois is making something of a mockery of the cap system, as the Lightning are nearly $18MM over the cap ceiling thanks to their huge amount of salary on long-term injured reserve. Nikita Kucherov, who makes up $9.5MM of that LTIR salary, is expected back for the playoffs once the cap ceiling is no longer used.
This move, just like the other maneuvering the Lightning have done this season, pushes the limit of the CBA but has actually been done before. Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs were involved in the trade that sent Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Vegas Golden Knights, retaining salary along the way in exchange for a draft pick. Like Tampa Bay, the Maple Leafs were deep into LTIR, meaning it didn’t really affect their cap situation by taking on some retained salary.
The outside-the-box thinking in Tampa Bay didn’t start with BriseBois. Former GM Steve Yzerman, who is now running the Red Wings, was known for his creative trade work; once again, he’s pulled off a deal to net an asset without giving up much of anything. Detroit gets a fourth-round pick just for a small salary commitment, but getting Lashoff and his $325K minor league guarantee off the books basically evens things out. The 30-year-old defenseman shouldn’t play much of a role for the Crunch and it wouldn’t even be surprising to see him loaned back to the Grand Rapids Griffins where he has played this season.
For Columbus, cashing in on Savard was a necessary move for GM Jarmo Kekalainen after the season did not go his way. The Blue Jackets have struggled for much of the year and it seemed unlikely that the team would re-sign Savard with other negotiations coming up. Landing a first and third for him should be considered a huge win, even if they will likely be extremely late picks thanks to Tampa Bay’s strong performance. Columbus has begun to start restocking the cupboard that was left so bare when they went all-in for the end of the 2019 season, acquiring the likes of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.
All three teams seem to come out ahead in this deal, not something that can often be said at the NHL trade deadline.
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