Going into the 2012-2013 season the lightning knew that they would have a slim chance of making the playoffs with the roster they had. The rebuild was to continue and it did as the lightning finished 8th last overall during the regular season. Despite the projected tough season, we felt like the team could be ready to compete legitimately as early as next season and if not then, 2014-2015 would be the year the lightning would definitely compete. With that in mind, the team decided to try and add assets that could help the team next year and in the future while letting go of veteran players and assets that wouldn't be nefhl ready for probably another 4 years or longer. Lets have a look at some of the moves management decided to make before the season and throughout.
Toronto Maple Leafs trade Erik Johnson, TOR 2013 Rnd 2 and $1,000,000 to Tampa Bay Lightning for Alexei Emelin, Matthew Finn and VAN 2013 Rnd 1 : This was a difficult trade to make. The logic was that by 2014-2015 EJ will finally develop into a top pairing d-man. In this trade we weren't expeciting him to reach the potential of a 1st overall pick but a steady 8 goal and 35 point guy was and still is our expectations going forward despite the poor nhl season this past year. We felt Matt Finn and the Van 1st (20th overall) wouldn't be ready in nefhl for another 4 to 5 years and the uncertainty and lack of offense from Emelin was fair value for the potential we see in EJ. His 72 OV before signing a long term contract will also be very beneficial.
Philadelphia Flyers trade Jonathan Quick to Tampa Bay Lightning for Michal Neuvirth, Zach Bogosian and WPG 2013 Rnd 1 : This trade was very easy to make. Jonathan Quick is a top 3 goalie in the nhl and at 26 years of age fits perfectly in our plans. A starting goalie is a must to compete and even though we really liked Bogosian we had depth on the back end that allowed us to move him. The Jets 1st round pick at 27 will take another 4 years at the earliest before it skates in the nefhl and Neuvirth had a terrible contract for a backup goalie made this trade a no brainer for our franchise.
New York Islanders trade Jiri Hudler to Tampa Bay Lightning for Eric Belanger, Michael Matheson and TOR 2013 Rnd 2: We felt as an organization that we lacked offense on the wing and when Hudler, a 28 year old gifted winger became available we stepped up to the table. We expected the 2nd round pick to be in the 50's range which is completely hit or miss (ended up 47) and Matheson though possesses lots of talent and is highly touted, still won't skate in the nefhl for at least another 4 or 5 years. Hudler had a good nhl season and we expect him to at the very least keep up that pace for the forseeable future.
Tampa Bay Lightning trade Brian Campbell, Daniel Alfredsson and Petr Sykora to Washington Capitals for Derek Roy, Lubomir Visnovsky and Marc Methot: Brian Campbell UFA to be, Alfie likely retiring at seasons end and sykora sucking it up for Derek Roy a skilled forward who I could sign for 4 years at seasons end and solid shutdown young defenseman Methot who at 27 years old had his best season was the best possible move for the team. These two guys will be a big help to get us in the playoffs in 2014-2015
Dallas Stars trade Devin Setoguchi to Tampa Bay Lightning for MIN 2013 Rnd 1: Even with the addition of Hudler and Roy, we still felt we needed some offensive help going forward and when Setoguchi became available we couldn't resist. At 25 years old, he fits right into our plan and brings offense, intensity, speed and responsible defensive play that will be quite valuable in any of our top 3 lines for some time to come. Going with the same train of thought of our previous deals 21st overall pick didn't meet our time frame and became expendable for a player of devin's abilities.
Overall as an organization we are very happy with where these moves are taking us along with a few minor deals where we got guys like bryan allen and victor bartley. It is unfortunate that we will not be able to compete next year in the nefhl but hopefully after another season of similar moves to this season and the improvement and growth of our core players, we will be in the playoffs come the 2014-2015 season.