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Striking a Deal: The Aftershocks of the Trade Deadline on the Tampa Bay Lightning

Every year after the Stanley Cup Final and the draft, the National Hockey League has its second trade deadline of the year and free agency opens up. A free agent is a player who is not currently under contract or whose contract has just expired, making them eligible to sign with other teams.

This summer’s trade deadline took place this past week and many surprising moves were made across the NHL. One of the teams that made some of the most unexpected moves was the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Acquiring Jake Guentzel from the Carolina Hurricanes

Courtesy of NHLI / Getty Images

Starting on a positive note, the Lightning were able to acquire left winger Jake Guentzel from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2025 third round draft pick. Guentzel has done a lot of moving around this year, having been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the last trade deadline in March. 

According to an article by AP News, Guentzel scored 30 goals during his brief tenure with the Hurricanes. This season marked the fourth time that he has achieved the 30-goal milestone during his eight year professional career, two of which saw him score 40 goals. Additionally, Guentzel won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins back in 2017. 

Guentzel’s outstanding skills were noticed by the Lightning general manager, Julien BrieseBois and his team, who were quick to ink the winger to a seven-year contract. The Lightning want to be playoff contenders for as long as possible, and what better way is there to stay in contention than by signing a high goal scorer with a Stanley Cup already under his belt?

Trading Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings

Courtesy of Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

One of the first players that the Lightning let go was left winger Tanner Jeannot. The Lightning traded Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the 118th pick overall in this year’s draft and a second round pick in 2025. Jeannot was a more recent addition to the Lightning roster, as they acquired him from Nashville in 2023.

Though the Lightning now have more draft picks, according to an article from The Hockey Writers, it is significantly less return than what they gave up for him two seasons ago, as they had to give up first through fifth-round draft picks as well as a player who was on both of their Stanley Cup-winning teams. 

Jeannot had a sense of physicality in his play that not a lot of forwards and wingers have. He was known for using his size to his advantage, delivering big hits and checks whenever he was on the ice. Though he was sidelined with injuries this past season, the winger still managed to play 55 games and score seven goals.  The Kings could use a physical player like Jeannot on their roster and can benefit from his offensive skills.   

Trading Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club

Courtesy of The Canadian Press

Another player that the Lightning let go early was defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who they traded to the Utah Hockey Club in exchange for defenseman J.J. Moser and center Conor Geekie. This trade was especially shocking because Sergachev had just entered the second year of his eight year contract and he had a no trade clause that was set to go into effect July 1st, according to ESPN

Sergachev was a core member of the Lightning’s roster, who they acquired from the Montreal Canadiens after his rookie NHL season. The young defenseman matured in his game during his seven seasons with the Lightning and was a key component to both of their Stanley Cup wins.

This past season, Sergachev did not play much for the Lightning, as he fractured both his fibula and his tibia early on in the season. However, he rallied back for his team, coming back in time to play two games during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sergachev is a dominant and competitive two-way defenseman whose poise and confidence on the ice will be a beneficial addition to the Utah Hockey Club roster this upcoming season. 

Trading Steven Stamkos to the Nashville Predators

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

This move came as an absolute shock to many around the league. On the first day of free agency, the Lightning traded their captain Steven Stamkos to the Nashville Predators. Stamkos’ contract expired at the end of this season, and negotiations were in progress prior to the end of the season to make sure that he stayed on the team. 

In an interview after their elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in May, BrieseBois and head coach Jon Cooper mentioned that re-signing Stamkos was their first priority. However, this past week it was announced that Stamkos was going to test free agency. 

When asked where things went south in an interview with Sportsnet, Stamkos said, “ I’ve found myself asking the same question and the more people I talk to, everyone seems to share the same sentiment, which is puzzling and strange. At the end of the day, there was no question that I was willing to put all that stuff aside and remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.”  

Stamkos was drafted first overall by Tampa Bay in 2008, where he played for 16 seasons- 10 of which he served as captain for- and scored 555 goals and 1,137 points. He won two Rocket Richard trophies for most goals scored across the league in a season. He also led the Lightning to their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup wins. 

Though it remains a mystery why the Lightning did not re-sign Stamkos with the salary cap space that trading Sergachev and Jeannot freed up, Nashville is very lucky to have this elite hockey player on their team next season.

What’s Next?

Though the Lightning made some very bold and shocking moves this past week, their intentions are somewhat clear. By adding Guentzel, the Lightning are trying to add some depth and some Stanley Cup-winning experience to their offense. By adding Moser and Geekie, the Lightning are looking to have a younger roster that is fit to play for many years to come. Though it is sad to say goodbye to some players who have been instrumental in building the Lightning franchise, it will be exciting to see what they do during this next chapter.

Edited by Emma Habel

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