by Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards
Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup in an unprecedented season, teams will have very little time before offseason moves will begin. The NHL Draft is October 6-7, and the free agency period starts just two days later on October 9. Two of the teams who could be the busiest will be the Lightning and Boston Bruins. The Stanley Cup champions have significant decisions to make on their roster due to salary cap restraints and core players who are either restricted or unrestricted free agents. The Bruins, ironically, are looking at options to improve their roster with almost fifteen million dollars in cap space. Could this lead to the division rivals begin unique trade partners?
It will be Bruins vs. Lightning in round two. https://t.co/HYuJSOMCwH— 98.5 The Sports Hub (@985TheSportsHub) August 22, 2020
Each of these teams will have decisions to make with their restricted free agents. The Lightning have just over five million dollars in cap space but will need to try to re-sign center Anthony Cirelli and young defensemen Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev. All three players are in their early twenties, and Cirelli can be a perennial Selke Award candidate. The team also has to decide on whether to re-sign unrestricted free agent Kevin Shattenkirk. There is a zero percent chance that Tampa Bay will be able to retain all of them. The Bruins have two core player restricted free agents, left-wing Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelcyk is a probability to return to the team, while the jury is still out on DeBrusk. Boston has more cap space than Tampa, even if they keep both players.
This scenario creates what could be an interesting dynamic between the two teams. The Lightning have been rumored to be shopping 31-year-old left-wing Alex Killorn, who has three years left on an affordable deal worth $4.45 million per season. If the Bruins were to deal DeBrusk for a left-shot defenseman or right-wing help, Killorn might be had for a prospect and maybe a second-round pick. The former Harvard star could bring an excellent veteran presence on David Krejci’s line. Another idea could be for Boston to inquire about forward Ondrej Palat, who has two years left on a $5.3 million contract. Palat was excellent in the playoff series with Boston, can play both wings, and is 29-years-old.
Both Killorn and Palat have no-trade clause stipulations. Palat has a full no-trade, while Killorn would submit a 16-team no-trade list. The thought here is that Killorn would accept a trade to Boston, while Palat may have to be convinced. There have even been rumors that Killorn has talked about how he would love to play in Boston. Would Tampa be open to a Sergachev for DeBrusk trade? Would that be something that would help Don Sweeney’s need for a left-shot defenseman? Sergachev scored ten goals this past season and could fill the void left by Torey Krug’s probable departure.
Although probably far-fetched, these two rivals may have the makings of a fascinating trade this offseason. The question is whether each franchise is willing to take the risk of potentially losing a trade between the two teams. It could be that both general managers would benefit from being a little open-minded when it comes to offseason wheeling and dealing and look in their division to improve their teams’ rosters.