Tampa Bay Lightning Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All Time

Dan Boyle

The History of Trade is a mini-series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the Tampa Bay Lightning trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.

Tampa Bay Lightning Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All Time

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a stellar 2017-18 season. They’ve led the league for most of the year and flaunted a lot of talent. The most impressive part of their talent levels is the simple fact that they’ve garnished this talent without making very many major deals at all. The Lightning became a team in 1992, and don’t have many blockbuster trades to their name. Still, they have had their share of smart and not-so-smart deals.

Best Trade

The Lightning sent away practically nothing, and in exchange got a defenseman who would go on to score over 250 points with Tampa Bay.

The Trade

The Tampa Bay Lightning send a fifth-round pick to the Florida Panthers and in exchange receive Dan Boyle.

Traded Away

There isn’t much to say about what the Lightning sent away. The lower ends of the 2003 draft were as typical as most years. The Tampa Bay Lightning had a weak draft but adding the fifth round pick to their lineup wouldn’t have helped much.

The Florida Panthers drafted defenseman Martin Tuma with the pick. Tuma’s career was never exciting. He played a total of 40 AHL games and only recorded three points. After bouncing back between the ECHL and AHL until 2007, Tuma finished his career in various European leagues.

The Return

Dan Boyle retired after the 2015-16 season, with over 600 total NHL points and over 1000 games played. Boyle played six seasons with Tampa before being traded to the San Jose Sharks. Boyle played with the New York Rangers to end his career and capped it off well. While he wasn’t a legend, Boyle is one of the most surprising undrafted players in recent history.

Boyle won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Lightning. That year, Boyle recorded 39 points in 78 games and led the team’s defence in scoring. This ended up being Boyle’s lowest scoring season with the Lightning, excluding the partial seasons he played when he first joined and left the team. In the four full seasons Boyle played in a Bolts jersey, he recorded over 50 points in all but one. He led the team’s defence in scoring all four years while also flaunting a lot of defensive skill.

Boyle was a two-time NHL All-Star and the star of the Lightning defence for years. While there were consistent players like Pavel Kubina, no defensemen were able to produce like Boyle. The Lightning made the playoffs every year Boyle played for Tampa, except his injury-plagued final year. That’s not a coincidence. Boyle was a key part of the Lightning lineup for years. On a team that flaunted some of the best forwards in the league, Boyle was the star defenseman.

Honorable Mentions

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Ryan Callahan and multiple first round picks from the New York Rangers in exchange for Martin St. Louis; The Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Ben Bishop from the Ottawa Senators for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick in 2013.

The Worst Trade

The Tampa Bay Lightning were able to win the 2004 Stanley Cup thanks to their star forwards Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier. The trio could not stay together forever, though. As the salary cap era rolled in, the team was slowly gripping the fact that one of the players had to leave. Tampa finally acted to fix the salary issues and dealt away Richards.

The Trade

Tampa Bay Lightning send Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to the Dallas Stars and in return got Jussi Jokinen, Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, and a fourth-round pick.

Sent Away

Trading away Brad Richards was the inevitable end of an era. The team simply couldn’t a afford to keep the line-up together. Still, Richards was the finishing piece of one of the best forward groups in decades. Richards is arguably one of the Lightning’s biggest steals in the draft. In the third round of the 1998 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected Richards. Only two years later, Richards made his NHL debut. In that introductory season, he tallied 62 points in 82 games. In the following year, Richards matched those stats.

His first two years were just a warmup, though. His stats steadily increased with the explosion of offence that came out of Tampa in the following years. In the Bolts prime, Richards was their star playmaker. He was the closest thing the Lightning had to their own Adam Oates. Richards recorded a career-high 68 assists, and 91 total points, in the 2005-06 season.

He continued to impress the league far past his years with Tampa. With Dallas, Richards tied his career high of 91 points and recorded a 77 point season. Overall, Richards had 11 seasons of over 50 points, ten of those years where he recorded over 60. In 16 years of NHL play, that number is daunting. While the team was forced to trade away Richards to comply with salary constraints, it’s still one of the worst deals they’ve statistically made.

Holmquist was overshadowed in the deal, but the Lightning did lose a consistent starter in Holmquist. In the season prior to his trade, he tallied 48 starts with the Lightning. In the year of the deal, he had tallied 45 with the team. He sported a winning record in both seasons and had locked down the starting role.

The Return

The trade was simply a cap dump, and none of the players the Bolts received stayed in Tampa very long.

Smith stayed with the Lightning the longest out of any of the three. He replaced Holmquist in the starting role and went 14-18-9 in 40 starts during his first full year in Tampa. Smith wasn’t much better the next season, going 13-18-7 in 36 starts. Smith emerged as a star goalie with the Phoenix, or Arizona Coyotes after his Tampa career.

Halpern played 125 games with Tampa and was a consistent bottom six forward. While he never played more than 55 games in a single season with Tampa Bay, he wasn’t worthless. He recorded a total of 51 points throughout his stretch in southern Florida and provided much-needed depth to a team who just lost their star winger.

Jokinen played the least amount of games in Tampa. Only 66 games, and 30 points, into his career as a member of the Lightning, the team dealt him to the Carolina Hurricanes.


Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images