By Ken Peacock
Today was the last day for NHL teams to make trades. Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets was the big name that was being talked about and at the end of the day Nash remains a Blue Jacket. There were plenty of buyers wanting to bolster their lineup, but not a lot of sellers. Tampa Bay could have tried to get themselves a goalie, but the lightning claimed that they were not expecting to make any moves. That turned out to be a false report as the Lightning made 3 moves to help bolster their blue line.
Earlier last week Steve Downie was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Steve Yzerman then traded Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for a first round draft pick and prospect, Sebastien Piche. Piche was then assigned to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. The Avalanche are happy with Downie and Yzerman has banked another pick for this summer’s draft.
Fast forward to today and the Lightning have been anything but quiet. First up for the Bolts was the acquisition of Mike Commodore from the Detroit Red Wings. In exchange for Commodore the Lightning sent a conditional seventh-round draft choice to the Red Wings. Detroit will only gets the pick if Commodore plays 15 or more regular-season games with the Bolts and if Tampa Bay makes the playoffs this season. Commodore has 471 games in the NHL over the last 11 years. Now the big question is…. What number will he choose….Commodore 64?
The next move was adding defenseman Keith Aulie to the roster. Aulie adds size to the Lightning’s blue line. He has played 17 games with the Maple Leafs this year collecting 2 assists and 16 penalty minutes. He has also played 23 games with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL collecting 1 assist and 30 penalty minutes. Acquiring Aulie came at a price to the Norfolk Admirals. Aulie was traded for forward Carter Ashton. Ashton was a highly regarded prospect in the Lightning system. The change of scenery may have a positive impact for Ashton as his play of late was average at best with the occasional glimpse of greatness.
Tampa Bay closed up day with a trade with the Ottawa Senators. Matt Gilroy was traded for defenseman Brian Lee. Lee was the ninth overall pick of the 2005 Entry Draft, and has played in 35 NHL games this season, registering a goal and seven assists. He has spent the the last five seasons with the Senator organization. This was his second year as a full-time member of the NHL club. Lee has played in 167 NHL games and has five goals, 23 assists and a minus-18 rating.
While the rough draft for next years defense has been written there is still an issue in goal for the Lightning. Yzerman has stated that there is a need to acquiring a goaltender, but the Lightning will most likely make a move this summer.
“We have some areas of concern on our team, but we will see how the rest of the season pans out,” Yzerman said. “You weigh what the player offered can give you and what they bring to your team now and for the rest of the year, but nothing made sense for us to do in goal.”
As the end of the season rapidly approaches it’s time for the Lightning to focus on the playoffs. Commodore and Lee are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday against Montreal and Aulie is expected to arrive on Wednesday.
In other moves on Monday, the Lightning assigned Evan Oberg, Mike Angelidis, and Trevor Smith to the Norfolk Admirals. Brandon Segal, recently acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, was recalled to Tampa Bay.