Expect the unexpected.
Hang around enough NHL Draft days and that’s generally been a theme. It also happens to be the mantra of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois after hoisting the Stanley Cup.
It’s no secret that the Lightning have to move upwards of $10 million to be able to re-sign their restricted free agents this off-season.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, the list of Lightning untouchables is small: Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman, runner-up Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Noticeably absent is captain Steven Stamkos.
That makes Stamkos the newest member of TSN Hockey’s Trade Bait board, representing yet another boulevard BriseBois can pursue to navigate Tampa Bay’s cap crunch.
There are myriad reasons why trading Stamkos is unlikely.
For one, the Lightning captain holds the hammer with full no-trade protection. Then there is his health. Stamkos, 30, underwent sports hernia surgery in early March before the pause, but sustained another injury compensating for that, according to BriseBois, which limited him to one short but magical appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
When you add in the difficulty of moving an $8.5 million cap hit during hockey’s most extraordinary economic times with a frozen cap, plus Stamkos’ visibility as one of the faces of the franchise and his connection with owner Jeff Vinik … well, it is a complicated transaction, to say the least.
But even Stamkos and his camp have grappled with the possibility - and that possibility, however remote, must be allowed for on the Trade Bait board.
Until then, the Lightning have engaged in trade discussions on more moveable pieces, including Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. Both have a form of no-trade protection in place, but BriseBois is working with Johnson’s agent in a collaborative way to find a landing spot.
Looking back on BriseBois’ playbook from last season, he moved J.T. Miller – who went on to lead the Canucks in scoring – to Vancouver on draft day in exchange for a first-round pick.
Thinking he might be able to accomplish the same this off-season could be one reason why he felt comfortable trading first-round picks for Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow at February’s deadline.
But that was the NHL’s pre-pandemic world. A whole new set of financial realities are in place.
Those realities largely dictate the 50 names in play on TSN Hockey’s latest Trade Bait board, which always seeks to blend a player’s prominence with his likelihood of a trade:
Trade Bait - Oct. 6
|1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ari||LD||29||66||9||30||$8.25M||7|
|2. Patrik Laine, Wpg||LW/RW||22||68||28||63||$6.75M||1|
|3. Josh Anderson, CBJ||RW||26||26||1||4||$1.85M||RFA|
|4. Matt Murray, Pit||G||26||38||2.87||.899||$3.75M||RFA|
|5. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK||G||35||49||2.77||.905||$7M||2|
|6. Tyler Johnson, Tam||C/W||30||65||14||31||$5M||4|
|7. Ottawa's 2nd Round Picks|
|8. Matt Dumba, Min||RD||26||69||6||24||$6M||3|
|9. Jake DeBrusk, Bos||LW||23||65||19||35||$863K||RFA|
|10. Tuukka Rask, Bos||G||33||41||2.12||.929||$7M||1|
|11. Keith Yandle, Fla||LD||34||69||5||45||$6.35M||3|
|12. Andreas Johnsson, Tor||LW||25||43||8||21||$3.4M||3|
|13. Max Domi, Mtl||C/LW||25||71||17||44||$3.15M||RFA|
|14. Paul Stastny, VGK||C||34||71||17||38||$6.5M||1|
|15. Steven Stamkos, Tam||C||30||57||29||66||$8.5M||4|
|16. Yanni Gourde, Tam||C||28||70||10||30||$5.17M||5|
|17. Alex Killorn, Tam||LW||30||68||26||49||$4.45M||3|
|18. Ryan Strome, NYR||C||27||70||18||59||$3.1M||RFA|
|19. Taylor Hall, Ari||LW||28||65||16||52||$6M||UFA|
|20. Alex Pietrangelo, StL||RD||30||70||16||62||$6.5M||UFA|
|21. Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ||G||26||33||2.35||.923||$4M||2|
|22. Joonas Korpisalo, CBJ||G||26||37||2.60||.911||$2.8M||2|
|23. Darcy Kuemper, Ari||G||30||29||2.22||.928||$4.5M||2|
|24. Noah Hanifin, Cgy||LD||23||70||5||22||$4.95M||4|
|25. Frederik Andersen, Tor||G||30||52||2.85||.909||$5M||1|
|26. Brandon Saad, Chi||RW||27||58||21||33||$6M||1|
|27. Matt Duchene, Nsh||C||29||66||13||42||$8M||6|
|28. Ryan Johansen, Nsh||C||28||68||14||36||$8M||5|
|29. Nick Bonino, Nsh||C||32||67||18||35||$4.1M||1|
|30. Brady Skjei, Car||LD||26||67||8||24||$5.25M||4|
|31. Shayne Gostisbehere, Phi||LD||27||42||5||12||$4.5M||3|
|32. Kyle Palmieri, NJ||RW||29||65||25||45||$4.65M||1|
|33. Phillip Danault, Mtl||C||27||71||13||47||$3.08M||1|
|34. Johnny Boychuk, NYI||RD||36||64||2||11||$6M||2|
|35. Brandon Sutter, Van||C/RW||31||44||8||17||$4.38M||1|
|36. Jaden Schwartz, StL||LW||28||71||22||57||$5.3M||1|
|37. Tyler Bozak, StL||C||34||67||13||29||$5M||1|
|38. Nate Schmidt, VGK||RD||29||59||7||31||$5.95M||4|
|39. Jonathan Marchessault, VGK||RW||29||66||22||47||$5M||4|
|40. Alec Martinez, VGK||LD||33||51||3||16||$4.1M||1|
|41. Phil Kessel, Ari||RW||32||70||14||38||$6.8M||2|
|42. Kris Russell, Edm||RD||33||55||0||9||$4M||1|
|43. Brandon Montour, Buf||RD||26||54||5||18||$3.4M||RFA|
|44. Troy Stecher, Van||RD||26||69||5||17||$2.33M||RFA|
|45. Jonathan Quick, LA||G||34||42||2.79||.904||$5.8M||3|
|46. Jake Gardiner, Car||LD||30||68||4||24||$4.05M||3|
|47. Jake Virtanen, Van||RW||24||69||18||36||$1.25M||RFA|
|48. Evan Bouchard, Edm||RD||20||0||0||0||$863K||3|
|49. Vincent Trocheck, Car||C||27||62||11||38||$4.75M||2|
|50. Sergei Bobrovsky, Fla||G||32||50||3.23||.900||$10M||6|
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli