The NHL trade deadline is a little over two weeks away, however, in this shortened season the race for playoff spots is tighter than ever. The number of teams who have all but given up at this the half way point of the NHL year, is relatively few. As a result we have fewer confirmed sellers right now than we normally do at this point in the year.
Earlier I looked at what Columbus had available for UFA rentals. Next we looked at why injuries will really hamper Florida’s ability to sell their UFAs, and followed that up with looks at the Buffalo Sabres, the Colorado Avalanche, the Edmonton Oilers and the Washington Capitals. Today its on to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning seem to be spinning their wheels this season, and just haven’t been able to translate the offensive talent on their roster into long winning streaks. Despite the goals and points of players like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Cory Conacher and even Vincent Lecavalier (who was having a bounce back year until his latest injury) the Lightning currently find themselves with an 11-15-1 record, and sit seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team needs to find more consistency in its defensive game, and while the season is certainly not over yet, if things do not change very quickly, the Bolts will become trade deadline sellers, and the following players could be available as soon-to-be UFA Rentals.
While teams don’t always trade for just draft picks, and often will look for prospects who are closer to NHL ready, I have valued these players all on the draft pick scale, so it is easier to compare them to what is available on other teams, in my other articles. As always I am also only looking at players scheduled to be UFAs this summer, even though the Lightning may choose to trade players with multiple years remaining on their contract.
B.J. Crombeen: Crombeen signed with Tampa in the off-season, after spending the majority of his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues. With 59 PIMs in 26 games this season, its easy to see what his job is, and that is to provide toughness on the ice. However we shouldn’t think of Crombeen as “just another goon” as he averages over 10 minutes of ice-time per game for Tampa and even sees time on the penalty kill. Crombeen would be a reliable fourth liner for a team looking to add some grit and toughness going forward. Given the recent trades of players like Mike Brown (4th round pick), and Matt Kassian (6th rounder, inferior player to Crombeen), I think that Crombeen should be valued as a 4th round pick.
Nate Thompson: Thompson is a versatile bottom line forward. Capable of playing both Centre and Wing, he brings a hard working, high energy style to any line he plays on. Like Crombeen, he’s also willing to drop the gloves, but must be considered a lower “weight class” than his teammate. Thompson does have a tendency to take some bad penalties, and that is the concern, however he also is a better skater than Crombeen and with 5 goals and 9 points this season, can bring some scoring to the bottom lines. I’m going to value him as being worthy of a 3rd round pick.
Adam Hall: Hall is another bottom line forward that the Lightning will have available. He plays a straight forward game, with some physicality on the wing or at centre. He is a responsible defensive player, and can play the penalty kill. When playing centre, he’s been very good on the dot, winning 56% of his faceoffs. Edit: Hall has been waived by the Bolts, and was claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Marc-Andre Bergeron: The Powerplay specialist has been out of the lineup for much of the year. He started off injured, but is now reported to be healthy. Despite that he has continued to be kept in the pressbox most nights. As stated, he is outstanding on the Powerplay with good vision, and a hard, accurate point shot. However he is completely unreliable in his own end of the rink, and most teams would not want to use him for a regular shift. As such, his value really drops. If there is a team out there willing to give a 7th round draft pick for Bergeron in the hopes of revitalizing an ailing powerplay, then the Bolts should take it.
What do you guys think? Have I valued these three trade deadline rentals too high? Too low? Feel free to add your comments below.
Interested in blogging for LastWordOnSports? Find more info at our “Join Our Team” page.
Photocredit: www.ramog.org, cc