We’ve talked in the past about how the Tampa Bay Lighting and Detroit Red Wings could be a fit this offseason to help each other out. The Lightning need to move salary and the Red Wings have weaponizable cap space to work with. It seems like a natural fit that these two NHL franchises might swing a deal.
Further to those reports, The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek is piecing together a specific trade that he believes could solve a lot of problems for Tampa in a hurry. Specifically, he’s wondering if there’s a three-player trade out there that would make sense for both teams?
In a perfect world, I would try to move not just one, but two of the remaining contract headaches (preferably Johnson and Killorn) to Detroit, and be prepared to surrender both a first-round pick and a quality young player to get the Red Wings to bite. Detroit would probably jump on that deal if that quality young player were Cernak, who is highly valued around the NHL.
In other words, Duhatschek is suggesting the Lightning move Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Erik Cernak and a 1st round pick in exchange for nothing but future considerations. (well, technically, he didn’t say what was going back, but Tampa can’t take much in the way of salary in return.)
How The Deal Would Work?
Admitting that the Lighting would be hesitant to do this and noting that it’s a last-resort type of deal to clean up their financial mess in one fowl swoop, it’s still not an easy deal to make work.
First, Johnson and Killorn alone represent over $9 million going to the Red Wings. Detroit has just over that in current cap space. The Red Wings would then need to sign Cernak who is an RFA and that would put them over the cap ceiling. Considering Cernak would be key to the deal, Detroit doesn’t make it if there’s any chance they have no room to sign him.
As such, Tampa would need to retain salary on the trades to keep Detroit out of the red. How much would the Lightning be willing retain knowing they had to part with Cernak and a first-round pick in the process?
At the same time, Detroit would argue that they are also taking on multiple years of both Killorn and Johnson and that’s not ideal for a rebuilding team that wants to have some flexibility in the next two or three seasons.
Again, on paper, Duhatschek has a trade here that could work. That said, it certainly could be argued against.
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