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What Acquiring Flashy Star Winger Would Cost for Tampa Bay Lightning

After a 52-win season for the 2023-24 Winnipeg Jets, a Nikolaj Ehlers trade could happen this summer. A ninth overall pick ten years ago, the Danish native posted another solid offensive season for Winnipeg under Head Coach Rick Bowness. Despite a lengthy injury history for Ehlers, he appeared in 82 games for the first time since 2018. In those 82 contests, Ehlers notched 25 goals and 36 assists for 61 points. The wingers’ most consistent linemate last season was Mark Scheifele, as the duo spent roughly 400 minutes together at 5v5. Outside of star centre Scheifele, Ehlers played alongside middle-six forwards like Vladislav Namestnikov. His role with Winnipeg continues to hold him back from his full potential, and Ehlers has something to say about his situation this summer. 

David Pagnotta from NHL Network announced Nikolaj Ehlers does not want to sign an extension in Winnipeg, which is why the flashy forward is available for trade. The forward has one year left on his deal with a modified no-movement clause. At 28 years old, Ehlers offers immense scoring and speed offensively. With Cole Perfetti and  Gabriel Vilardi becoming free agents this season and next, respectively, the Jets will need to make space and look for them to seek a new home for Ehlers in 2025.

Tampa Bay Lightning Should Target Nikolaj Ehlers

While the Lightning are not the first team that comes to mind in a Nikolaj Ehlers trade, the fit would be glorious for the forward core in Tampa. The secondary scoring for the Lightning was horrific, and Ehlers is a fantastic complementary piece for superstars such as Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. The Danish winger won’t have a sizable impact on the defensive side of the puck, but his skill set is too strong to ignore. Ehlers combines his puck skills and speed to be one of the deadliest transition threats in the National Hockey League. What else about a 28-year-old Ehlers makes him such a desirable, potential trade target?

Nikolaj Ehlers Scouting Report

Ehlers is the full package on offence. The Danish winger offers a blistering shot, solid passing, and chance generation off the rush or the cycle. Ehlers is versatile and can play with nearly anyone in the lineup. While his defensive play is subpar, his ability to enter the zone with immense speed and control of the puck is dangerous. Ehlers excels in nearly every area of microstats via AllThreeZones. He ranked in the 100th percentile of zone entries and controlled zone entries per hour last season amongst forwards. Furthermore, Ehlers placed in the 100th percentile of chance assists per hour. With Ehlers being an offensive weapon, what would the price tag be for the flashy forward?

What It Would (Likely) Take To Acquire Ehlers

Disclaimer: The players featured in this article aren’t linked to the Lightning but have been made available in some capacity this offseason. These pieces are observing why Tampa should target them and what the cost would be if they did.

The Lightning and Jets have minimal trade history in recent years. The clubs are on opposite sides of the continent, and the warm climate in Tampa would be a massive change for the Danish winger. The trade would likely cost the Lightning their 2026 first-round pick, a roster player, and other small pieces. Anthony Cirelli or Erik Cernak would go the other way to even out the salary. Plus, other pieces to the trade, for example, Nick Perbix, Tanner Jeannot, or Conor Sheary, would have to be added.

Potential Role in Tampa Next Season

A player like Ehlers is versatile and can play in nearly any system among the 32 NHL teams.  He would benefit most from a top-six role and a change of scenery outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. With his elite transition game, the Lightning can increase their overall rush play and team speed. The team must look to generate more off the rush next season outside of Kucherov and Point. Here’s a potential Lightning top-six after re-signing Captain Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos – Point – Kucherov

Hagel – Cirelli – Ehlers

Main photo credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports


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