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Why The Tampa Bay Lightning Should Gain Draft Capital

Lightning draft

With the NHL Draft in the Sphere of Las Vegas just two weeks away, an entire class of new hockey talent will enter the greatest league in the world. Draft day is essential to building a successful franchise. On this day, a General Manager could select their next franchise icon. Or possibly find a diamond in the rough in later rounds. Furthermore, some teams will use draft capital to upgrade their roster for the next season. The Lightning frequently use their draft capital to improve their roster, as the team is in “win now” mode.

The Lightning does not hold a draft selection until the fourth round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Moreover, the team doesn’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the 2025 entry draft. After numerous trade deadline acquisitions like Tanner Jeannot, Brandon Hagel, and Nick Paul, the prospect pool is shallow in the final years of the contention window for Tampa. Here’s how the team should look to gain draft capital and propel a rebuild in the upcoming years.

Options for the Lightning to Start Stocking up on Draft Picks

Third-Party Trades

Julien BriseBois was the third-party General Manager in trades at the 2024 trade deadline for a team in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers acquired Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick from the Ducks to bolster the depth. Furthermore, Tampa received a conditional fourth-round pick for retaining 50% of the veteran forward’s deal. Henrique is three wins away from his first Stanley Cup, and the Lightning have a surplus of mid-round draft picks. BriseBois and Tampa’s front office must look for more three-team trades to build a surplus of draft picks over the next few seasons.

Add Two 26-Year-Olds to the Trade Block

Another way to gain draft capital is to add two enticing assets to the trade block this off-season. One of those two players, Tanner Jeannot, has already been available for trade via BriseBois and his camp. Jeannot is a former 20-goal scorer with an edge of physicality to his game. He has an affordable cap hit of $2.665 million next season and can be effective with a change of scenery. A team in any situation can take advantage of Jeannot’s services. A rebuilding team can use him to protect younger talent and lead, while a contender can bolster their depth with this acquisition.

Nicklaus Perbix didn’t have the easiest path to the NHL. However, the 26-year-old found himself with the big club for the past season and a half through years of hard work in the minors. The defender offers solid rush defending and puck-moving skills with a cheap cap hit. With Ryan McDonagh‘s return to Tampa, the Lightning have their top six defenders likely set in stone for next season. We expect Emil Martinsen Lilleberg and Darren Raddysh to fill the bottom pairing, leaving Perbix as the odd man out. Again, any team would love to have this under-the-radar right-handed defenceman.

Start Selling Some Core Pieces

While this is the strategy the team should avoid, it is a potential route to gaining draft capital. Two names involved in trade talks this summer are centre Anthony Cirelli and defenceman Erik Cernak. However, either of these moves would not make sense for Tampa. Cirelli is a fantastic defensive centre and penalty killer and has elite chemistry with Hagel on the second line. While his cap hit is high for his offensive production, moving a 26-year-old two-way centre is not wise. With McDonagh back, some suggest moving Cernak for draft picks. However, McDonagh and Cernak formed one of the best shutdown defensive pairings from 2020-2023. Plus, McDonagh will elevate Cernak’s game back to form. Overall, the two other routes listed above are the best way for the Lightning to gain draft capital this summer.

Main Photo Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports


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