I don't think anyone would disagree that this was the best looking Lightning squad ever assembled coming into this season. The line-up had good top end skill, two good goaltenders and a mix of skilled and defensive minded defenseman. Unfortunately, the results were far from the results expected with the ratings on the team. While looking at the box scores, I realized that my defense was lacking that number 1 guy. Yes Shattenkirk is a great d-man but he's more of a number 2 guy. Knowing that we had a lot of depth up front and the fact that the 3rd and 4th line guys weren't getting many minutes anyways we decided utilize some of that depth up front and aquire a big sturdy number 1 d-man. The trade we ended up completing looks like this :
Buffalo Sabres trade Erik Johnson, Markus Lauridsen, Matthew Konan and Nick Petrecki to Tampa Bay Lightning for Benoit Pouliot, Justin Fontaine, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Zack Kassian and TAM 2016 Rnd 2
We really liked the recent development of Erik Johnson and with 3 years remaining at 2 million per year on his contract we felt it was a no brainer to use up some of our offensive depth no matter how much we liked the guys we moved. Erik hasn't necessarily lit up the score sheet since coming over but he's definitely stabilized the defense and allows for all the other d-man to play a bit lesser of a role, one they are more accustomed to.
About 3 and a half weeks after the Erik Johnson deal, we realized the Travis Zajac wasn't being utilized to the best of his abilities. With his ratings and his skill set this guy needed to be in the top 6 but with Krejci and Bergeron in front of him, there just wasn't any room. We looked at our roster and realized that we could move Dubinsky to center which would allow skilled winger Jiri Hudler to move into the top 6 if Zajac were to be moved. Plus zajac only had 1 more year after this one left on his contract and it seemed like we should try and get as much as we could for him. We put him on the trade block and got many offers but the rangers stepped up with the best offer which looked like this :
Tampa Bay Lightning trade Travis Zajac to New York Rangers for Nicklas Jensen, Tom Kuhnhackl and DET 2015 Rnd 2
We really like the potential for former first round pick Nicklas Jensen. He's extremely fast and has produced offensively everywhere he's played. He still needs a couple years before he makes an impact for us but thanks to the depth we've put together over the past couple years we don't need him to come in just yet anyway.
Since those two trades our team has gone from a below .500 bottom dweller to a playoff team. Grant it we are only at .500 as we speak, we feel like our players are in a position to succeed now and that we will continue to rise in the standings