Tampa Bay Lightning use more cap sorcery to get compliant after trade with Sens

Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning are officially cap compliant.

Call it clever management or cap sorcery or whatever you want, the Tampa Bay Lightning will now be cap compliant by the start of the 2020-21 NHL season after pulling the trigger on a trade with the Ottawa Senators.

The Lightning have sent defenseman Braydon Coburn, forward Cedric Paquette and a Second-Round pick in 2022 to Ottawa for forward Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson.

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So, before we go any further, let’s make one thing abundantly clear; this is a cap dump pure and simple.

We’ve covered it in depth but, after re-signing star forward Anthony Cirelli on Christmas Eve to a three-year, $14,400,000 contract with an AAV of $4,800,000 and placing Russian stud Nikita Kucherov on LTIR, the Lightning still needed to clear just over $2 million in cap space.

Well, they have accomplished that exact goal in the wake of this deal with the Senators and we’re going to explain exactly how, before delving into what this means for Ottawa.

Lightning Under The Cap

Firstly, the Tampa Bay Lightning cleared $3.35 million in salary by trading Braydon Coburn and forward Cedric Paquette, although they acquired $7.475 million in salary.

So, how are they now cap compliant?

Well, per CapFriendly, Marian Gaborik, who hasn’t played a game since 2017-18 due to injury, and his $4,875,000 salary on LTIR, while they have also done the same with Anders Nilsson and his $2,600,000 salary with the goaltender sidelined with concussion symptoms.

As such, the Lightning now have $16,975,000 on LTIR, including Nikita Kucherov, and they now have $1,158334 in usable space that must be used prior to 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2021.

In a nutshell, the Tampa Bay Lightning have effectively cleared $3.35 million in cap space which is more than they needed to after placing Kucherov on LTIR.

Yes, they had to send a Second Round pick and shed some depth players in order to get cap compliant but, given how stacked their roster is and given that they are right in their win-now window, it is a small price to pay for the Lightning and General Manager Julien BriseBois who has worked more cap magic.

And, you could even argue that the Lightning have had the best offseason in the entire NHL after keeping the majority of their core intact without losing any major pieces, which seemed impossible in the immediate aftermath of their Stanley Cup win.

I mean, even Harry Potter would be proud of the kind of high-level cap sorcery that goes on in Tampa Bay.

Cedric Paquette (13)
Cedric Paquette #13 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Senators Making Moves

It has been a busy couple of days for the Ottawa Senators who sent a 2021 Second Round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for veteran center Derek Stepan, a trade that caused a lot of confusion and one we broke down in depth here.

While a lot of hockey Twitter didn’t understand the transaction, the Senators are adding an established veteran and a well respected leader to their young core and inexperienced locker room.

And, they’ve followed that same template with this transaction after acquiring defenseman Braydon Coburn and forward Cedric Paquette from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Both Coburn and Paquette will bring some much needed experience to that room, while they will bolster the Senators’ depth chart.

Coburn will be a useful addition to the bottom four unit on the backend, and the eighth overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft will be a good mentor for someone in the ilk of Erik Brannstrom.

Braydon Coburn (55)
Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With 232 points (49 G, 183 A) in 964 career NHL regular season games, in addition to 32 points (3 G, 29 A) in 137 postseason contests, the 6-foot-5 and 223 pounds defenseman will add some grit, toughness and leadership to that Ottawa blueline and he’ll help ease the burden on some of the Sens’ younger defensemen.

As for Cedric Paquette, the 27-year-old center recorded 18 points (7 G, 11 A) in 61 regular season games in 2019-20 for the Lightning, in addition to appearing in all 25 Stanley Cup Playoffs games as Tampa Bay finally put their postseason demons to rest by winning the championship.

Paquette, who was taken with the No. 101 overall pick by the Lightning in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has 85 points (47 G, 38 A) in 377 NHL career regular season games and he will provide some much-needed forward depth for the Senators.

Likely to slot into a bottom-six role for Ottawa, Paquette can play on the third or bottom line and, with Derek Stepan now in the mix, the Sens all of a sudden have some strength down the middle.

Having both Paquette and Stepan on the roster also takes some of the pressure off the likes of Brady Tkachuk, Colin White and Logan Brown, especially during a shortened season where every game will have extra riding on it.

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Overall, this is a win-win trade for both teams with the Tampa Bay Lightning clearing the cap space they need to finally get cap compliant while keeping their loaded core intact, and the Ottawa Senators accomplish their aim of adding some experience, toughness, grit and leadership to their young core.