Opportunity: Tampa Bay?

Steve Yzerman

Tampa Bay is in a bit of a salary cap bind. With Steven Stamkos coming up on free agency and a number of other players (including Nikita Kucherov) entering restricted free agency the club has just $1.63 million in available cap space. We’ll probably see some sort of cap increase next year, but even so this is going to be tight.

So it’s not a surprise to hear rumours that the Lightning are trying to ship out salary. Nor is it surprising that those rumours tend to involve the team’s defence.

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The Report


The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to sharing rumours, but what he has to say about the situation in Tampa Bay makes sense:

Stamkos’ comparables are likely the eight-year, $10.5-million per season deals that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane that kicked in this season with the Chicago Blackhawks. The talk is the Bolts have yet to table an offer to Stamkos but both sides are keeping any discussions quiet publicly. It’s believed Yzerman is attempting to clear money off the books by shopping defenceman Matt Carle around the league. The 31-year-old, who is making $5.5 million per season, has a contract that runs through 2017-18.

The obvious reason this might be of interest to the Oilers is that Carle is one of the few veteran defencemen out there believed to be available in trade, and Edmonton’s blue line is in need of some help. Is there a fit here?

The Options

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Tampa Bay has five defencemen with a cap hit of $4.0 million or more. Of that group, Victor Hedman is of course untouchable (worth noting: a year from now, he’ll be in the same situation as Stamkos and in need of a new contract) while Anton Stralman is playing top-pairing minutes for just $4.5 million per season and is very unlikely to be available. We can further nix Braydon Coburn, who is a pending free agent and will already do his share to clear cap space when his deal runs out this summer.

That leaves two names: Matt Carle and Jason Garrison, currently playing together on Tampa Bay’s second pairing. They have some things in common. Both are right around 31 years old and under contract for this season and two more after that. They play similar minutes at evens, and participate on both special teams. There are some obvious differences, too: Carle has a higher cap hit ($5.5 vs. $4.5 million), a higher actual salary (Garrison’s long-term deal was front-loaded) and is significantly smaller (6’, 197 pounds vs. 6’2”, 223 pounds) than Garrison.

At even-strength, both guys are trusted against tougher opposition and both start a lot of shifts in the defensive zone. Both come in just a touch below average in terms of on-ice shot and scoring chance metrics, which isn’t that big of a deal given that a) the team average in Tampa Bay is awfully good and b) they’re generally seeing reasonably tough minutes.

Carle has been up-and-down historically on the power play, and seems to have fallen out of favour in that regard. Garrison, meanwhile, has had four pretty reasonable years in a row on the man advantage and offers a heavy point shot. On the penalty kill, neither guy was especially good last year; Carle had the worst on-ice numbers of any Lightning defenceman while Garrison was a second unit guy.

To me, Carle is sliding towards third-pairing duty – I wouldn’t be surprised if on merit he was a No. 5 by year-end – and he’s paid way too much for that. Even if it was a one-for-one deal for Andrew Ference I don’t think I’d take that contract on in Peter Chiarelli’s shoes. Garrison? He’s more interesting, particularly because he often plays on the right side of the ice. Edmonton could certainly use his shot on the power play, and his veteran presence might be valuable in the top-four.

Having said that, the problem here may be that even a Garrison trade is simply aiming too low. If the Oilers are going to take on significant salary, they should probably be looking at a really significant defenceman, even if it means parting with some hard-to-lose assets in the deal.

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  • Gordie Wayne

    By the end of this week, the Oilers will have a worse record than last year when coached by Eakins.
    Savor that reality.

    Also, recognize what Arizona has done. Confirming that OEL was a better player than any player the Oilers have playing for them, save “maybe” MacDavid.

    These two facts alone should condemn Chiarelli. A summer of inaction, a summer of listening to the hold over incompetents. A summer of no buyouts , no dismissals.

    In fact, this two actual moves have been functionally useless, Reinhart doesn’t get to play, despite what was wasted to acquire him, Korpikoski a net drag on the team compared to the functionality that Gordon provided.

    Also, no evidence that MacLelland is accomplishing anything with this team compared to last year. Same losing mentality, same endless blather about system play with no results.

    Look at Chicago last night. With massive turnover, they are still functional , still find ways to win, that is a much coaching as it is anything.

    Bringing up Nurse is positive, but continuing to even have Schultz on the team is ridiculous.

    But we all know this team should have been gutted last summer, and it wasn’t. The Oilers have cornered the market on over-rated forwards, yet we keep them even as their market value dissolves.
    This team should have made OEL its obsessive goal for the off-season. Him and MacDavid and who cares about the rest.
    Even if that wasn’t possible, something comparable needed to be accoplished.
    We all know this team cannot be competitive with the defense and the coaching it has.
    Ten games in simply reaffirm that.

    Chiarelli is a ditherer. The Oiler fan base is going to abused yet again.

    So instead of musing about incrementality, when do you start to advocate real change.

    What would be salutory would be if Chiarelli would go public and concede his abject failure to date.

    Be ready to savor 3-8 Saturday morning , compare to Eakins last year.
    All who scoff , just look that the results.

    • camdog

      I agree that OEL would be the second best player on this team. Why would Arizona trade one of the top 10 young d-man in the game?

      The Oilers have no depth, after a decade of incompetence at management/draft. The strength of this team is supposed to be a forward, but if you trade any of the skilled forwards on this team, there is nobody in house available to replace them.

      I know this site like to pump the tires of our draft picks, but once Nurse and LD come up to the big team, it’s hard to believe that there will be an influx of talent coming up from Bakersfield for another 3 years.

      • Reg Dunlop

        I’m not sure there are skilled forwards, plural, on this team. McDavid, sure, but then you see Hall, Yak, Eberle etc. They are one or two dimensional in a league that requires 4 or 5 dimensions from forwards earning their team’s biggest contracts. Trade for OEL? Seth Jones? It’s going to take a lot more than Hall and his 6 mil ticket, in fact a cheap Draisaitl plus our first next year may fetch more than any of the ‘young guns’.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Yes because we should solely look at the first 10 games of a season in a vacuum and we make make sweeping determinations based on this. Last time i check arizona is riding a massive PDO wave (>106) and has played a few leastern conference teams recently. Let’s see where we are at by the end of the year.

      Love OEL, but if he were truly available for anyone on the Oilers not named McDavid i think the deal would already be done. It takes 2 to make a trade

      • Gordie Wayne

        Not to mention the Oilers had a goal called back, and were basically on one long road trip to start the year against The Blues, The Preds, The Stars, The Blues again, The Flames, The Canucks, then Detroit, Washington, and LA. That is a murders row of games to start the year. And in it they ended losing streaks to the Flames, the Canucks, and the wings, and very nearly got at least a point against LA, but played with them the whole game. Tonight it doesn’t get any easier playing the red hot Wild who the Oilers have really struggled against.

        Other than Dallas and Washington, it’s been a whole new club.

        Where as last year Edmonton opened up the season by losing to division rivals Calgary, Van, La, ARIZONA, and Van again, before going on a small winning streak at home against all Eastern teams Tampa, Washington, CAROLINA, and Montreal, and then of course losing to another western team in the Preds.

        It’s not even worth comparing the two schedules or how the team played against these squads. This year they got shut out against the Preds because Pekke Rinne was on fire. Last year was 4 – 1 and the Oilers were badly outplayed all over the ice. It was a brutal game to watch.

        Biggest difference, if the Oilers keep playing how they have, they will win games. Last year, that wasn’t the case.

    • Hemmercules

      Haha, nice comparing Chicago to the Oilers. Yes, both teams had lots of turnover but Chicago still has most of their core of cup winning guys left. If you traded the two teams defences I would bet the Oilers would have 12 points right now like Chicago has.

      Stud defensemen are drafted and kept, rarely traded for or discarded. The Oilers have been less than stellar at drafting Dmen. Thats not really on Chiarelli if you ask me since he has been GM of the Oilers for like 5 months. Patience is thin for this team but expecting Chiarelli to build a playoff defense in one summer is probably asking too much.

    • TKB2677

      You need to find your way off this site. This post is such a pity party.quit trying to project yourself as the person who was right all along. If you can’t see the changes the team made on the ice I don’t think you should be watching hockey. You make me sick

      • TKB2677

        Those are more constructive suggestions than most of what is blogged and posted here.

        OEL should have been the Oilers sole obsession. It wasn’t and we are as dismal as ever.

        As for Chiarelli, he has shown me nothing.
        This season started with a defense that only means losing, you can’t win with them. But he willfully is using the season to audition more train wrecks. How many games does Schultz have to play to confirm he cannot play NHL hockey.

        How many games have to played to devalue even more the trade value of RNH and Hall? Moving last summer might have actually fixed this defence once and for all.

        Do you think anyone running the Oilers cares about the fans? I don’t. If they did, they would apply real urgency and would have gutted it last summer.

        • Take a breath man OEL is going nowhere. There are more appropriate players for us to target anyhow for D if you want to dream that a specific player is tradable.


          Furthermore you obviously know nothing about asset management.

          Imagine you just got offered managers position at the Mcdonalds you work at that’s struggling with breakfast sales. Do you immediately fire or move star burger makers to breakfast? Or do you do the smart responsible thing and find out what type of employees you have before firing them? Give it a rest man your clueless. (this is called an analogy I don’t have the patience to explain how they work to you)

    • TKB2677

      I find it humorous that the most uneducated and unintelligent among us have to speak so loudly.

      You have an unhealthy infatuation with OEL, an unfounded hatred of Chia and his “lack of moves”, and it begs the question, what do you achieve by masquerading as an Oilers fan?

      Just because you incessantly post the EXACT same crap time and time again, doesn’t qualify you as a fan. When a dog is born in a stable, that doesn’t make it a horse.

      I nominate you for the Delta Bravo award for today, as you are one pathetic loser, no offence.

    • You might as well get off Chiarelli and McLellan’s back calling them down so early in their rolls here . They both have lengthy and costly contracts to fill , and both will be untouchable for at least 3 years . I believe they are signed for 5 years each . We are still paying Eakins and MacT. as well , on top of other players they probably should rid themselves of . Even if we end up dead last , I doubt either is in jeopardy of being removed . If we wake up to 5 wins and 6 losses Saturday we will be in the thick of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division . If Chia dithers tough luck to us unfortunately for quite awhile .

  • Reg Dunlop

    Carle is at best a #3 on a playoff bound defence. On the Oilers… he immediately becomes our best defenceman. I make that deal today; can he suit up tonight? We will only lose by 2 with him in, with the group we presently ice Talbot will have to channel Terry Sawchuck to keep it that close.

  • S cottV

    To get a top pairing d man, the Oilers will have to take a chance on acquiring a young guy, who is projected to have that potential.

    Seth Jones – like.

    Oilers would have to get the projection right and would have to give up something of big value or potential big value in return.

    One or more of the big young names would have to go.

    If you believed in Drai, as a sure fire – big second line centreman behind McD – maybe it has to be Hopkins.

    I think you need a big centerman in top two lines to match up and compete with other teams in the Western Conference, where many big name centremen are 6 ft 2 or taller and weigh in at 220+ lbs.

    Hopkins is a great prospect – no doubt, but he is a similar look to that of McD. Both are comparatively small, but Hopkins is just 6 ft tall and listed at an inflated 189 lbs.

    We all love him, but Hopkins – Backes, Hopkins – Getzlaf, Hopkins – Benn and on and on – there are many, is one mismatch after another.

    The mismatch gives up – Presence, strength, reach, taking space, holding space, angling, faceoffs, battles, etc etc etc..

    I know – I will get trashed by Hopkins supporters (I like Hopkins too), but – something has to give, if we are ever to get our hands on a #1 d man.

    • Reg Dunlop

      RNH is the perfect symbol of the failure of the Oilers endless rebuild.

      Fundamentally ineffectual for the role he is supposed to fill.

      But he has market value.

      Use it.

    • Hemmercules

      You bring up a valid point but don’t underestimate RNH ability to become a Datysuk type player. Datysuk entered the league when he was 23 so RNH still does have time to become the star Daytsuk became.

      Like PC and TMc have stated many times, its about compete level more than size.

  • Hemmercules

    Going forward the Oilers will be only able to keep 2 quality centers.

    McDavid for sure and trade one of RNH or Drai. I say keep Davey and Drai (size)

    So probably RNH and a high draft pick or prospect for a top defenseman like Seth Jones. Nashville will need a top 2 center as Fisher and Riberio are getting old.

    Then sign Big Buff as a free agent.

  • Hemmercules

    Klefbom – 2nd pairing D

    Sekera- 2nd pairing D

    Fayne – 3rd pairing D

    Gryba- 3rd pairing D

    Reinhart- 4th pairing D

    Schultz- 3rd pairing D

    Davidson- 4th pairing D

    Ference- 5th pairing D

    And there you have it. At the moment.

  • A-Mc

    At the risk of being trashed mercilessly for using a MacT phrase: I think the Oilers are Visually Better this season.

    LOTS of good things are happening as a result of doing the right thing and working hard, as opposed to getting lucky. We lost vs LA, but we hung in there and we had a chance to win. We lost to the Blues twice, but we were in both of those games and had a chance to win. We dont need to be the dominant team to win on any given night (Look at the Phlems of last year), we just need to do a little more right and a little less wrong.

    I feel like the smallest shift in the right direction is all that’s required for this team to start winning more than losing. When i see the improvement unfolding infront of my eyes with each game, i can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    I really feel like we’re *THIS CLOSE* to turning the corner; we just need to get a little bump. The fanboy in me is hoping that Nurse is that bump, GO NURSE!

  • ubermiguel

    Yesterday I got overwhelmingly “thumbed downed” for suggesting that we should move a forward of significance in order to get an excellent D that is responsible in own zone and crunch big minutes doing so.
    Now today the ON sheeple eat this up whole. Funny…

  • Spoils

    I gotta say I love talk of trading assets for D. We can offer the chance of a very high pick in next year’s draft with our first pick. We can also offer some really skilled forwards.

    let’s package something up that is compelling and AIM high for a top pairing D.

  • BDH

    So first we have Lowetide with his “Is Something Wrong with Leon?” blog, which basically boiled down to “no, he’s playing well, the points aren’t there but they will be soon”

    Now there’s the “Opportunity: Tampa Bay”, which boils down to “no opportunity, really it wouldn’t be much of an upgrade.”

    It seems like lately ON is trying to create stories that aren’t really stories. Not nearly as click baity as Lowetide’s article, at least there was an in depth analysis here, but I hope that this is just the first in a series of blogs looking at trade opportunities with each team.

  • Don’t be so sure that the cap will go up a bit next year. The Canadian teams do a lot of heavy lifting on the cap and the sharp decline in the Canadian dollar is more likely to push the cap down. Any teams counting on the cap to go up may find their problems are worse than imagined.

  • No more short sighted trades and this is so short sighted that it makes Mr. Magoo looks like he has eagle vision. There are only 2 choices: a) Let certain contacts expire, let Nurse, Reinhart develop and wait for next summer crop of UFA’s.
    b) If you really want a young, top 2 guy now? It means one of the young Forwards will be traded.
    C) I do not like the 2nd option…at all.

  • YakCity1039

    Why not do a Nikitin/Ference for Carle/Garrison trade? We take on 2 extra years from both Carle and Garrison. They come off the books by the time we have to re-sign McDavid, and there’s a chance we trade both in the final years of their contracts too. I don’t see a downside to the two of them. They’re both superior and better players than Ference and Nikitin. Throw in a prospect like Gernat and/or Musil and you’re set. I’d rather take this D-core than the one we have right now


    Send Reinhart down for some more seasoning, even though he’s played well.