The Detroit Red Wings have acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick. The pick going back to Tampa will be for the upcoming 2022 draft. Chris Johnston reported the move Friday morning.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 30, 2021
Red Wings Acquire Mitchell Stephens
Stephens was a very marginal player in 2020-21. His playing time decreased significantly and he posted just one assist in seven games with an average of 9:28 of ice time. It was a severe decline from the three goals and six points in 38 games he contributed during his rookie year in 2019-20. Stephens’ possession stats also plummeted, but it is hard to draw concrete conclusions from such a small sample.
The Lightning originally drafted Stephens in the second round of the 2015 Draft, though he didn’t debut until the aforementioned 2019-20 season. He hasn’t had much playing time yet, but he has battled some injuries early in his career. That is on top of Tampa being absolutely packed with talent. He should have much more opportunity in Detroit. Stephens is still a very fast skater who should be able to contribute on offence. There is plenty of time for the Peterborough native to have a productive NHL career.
What This Means
It’s hard to know where Stephens might fit into Detroit’s scheme. He fits their model of acquiring young players as he is just 24 years old. However, it is unclear if he will win a regular spot in the lineup over some of the Red Wings’ prospects. At the very least, he helps the team climb towards the salary cap floor and gives them another competitive body in training camp.
Tampa really needed to clear Stephens as it tries to fit under the salary cap ceiling. They have signed several players like Corey Perry, but have jettisoned others. They are still roughly $6 million over the ceiling, though all of that can be buried on LTIR after acquiring Brent Seabrook from the Chicago Blackhawks.