The Tampa Bay Lightning have emerged as one of the teams in the mix for Jesse Puljujarvi, who scored in his Champions League debut with Kalpa on Friday.
As was discussed earlier in the week, Ken Holland’s asking prices appear to be set. If a team wants JP and is only willing to part with a single pick it will likely have to be a first. Holland is also apparently willing to accept a player who is ready to play a top nine role and an additional draft pick.
Let’s take a look to see if the Lightning have the assets in place to pull the trigger on a Puljujarvi deal.
The draft pick compensation would not be an issue for the Lightning. With the two exception of a 5th rounder they have all of their own picks in 2020 to go along with a conditional 1st from the Canucks in the JT Miller trade. Tampa also has the Red Wings 4th round pick in 2020 and the Senators 6th rounder.
I would be shocked if the Bolts are willing to move a first round pick for JP, even if it is likely to be a pick that falls near the end of the opening round. They may be willing to move their own 3rd round pick considering the Red Wings 4th rounder will likely only be a few spots behind.
The only option I see possibly being available off the current roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning is Cedric Paquette. When you look at the Bolts line up Paquette likely is slated to begin the season as the 4th line center behind Stamkos, Point and Cirelli.
He’s a 26-year old who played over 65 games for the first time in his career last season. In 80 games last year Paquette finished with 13 goals and 4 assists. He makes 1.65 million for each of the next two seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021.
Paquette could slide right into the third line centre role on the Oilers between Markus Granlund and Alex Chiasson.
The Lightning do have a couple of prospects the Oilers may be interested in but I’m not sure they fit Holland’s criteria of being ready to step into top nine minutes.
Barre-Boulet absolutely blew up in his final season of junior hockey and carried it over to the American Hockey League last year. This 5’10 center signed with the Lightning as a free agent following his 20-year old season in the QMJHL, a season in which he scored 53 goals and finished with 116 points. He followed up that sensational effort with 34 goals and 34 assists in 74 games as an AHL rookie.
Katchouk was selected in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft and now has a year under his belt in the AHL. It wasn’t an overly productive season for the former Soo Greyhound as he finished with just 23 points in 75 games. I see Katchouk having third line upside in the NHL but not anytime soon.
With 46 points in 70 games Taylor Raddysh, a right winger, had a much better rookie season than Katchouk. Raddysh is a former teammate of McDavid having spent a year together in Erie. I’m not sure the Lightning are ready to move Raddysh after just a year in the American League.
The 33rd overall pick in 2015 now has two AHL seasons under his belt. Stephens played 32 games in Syracuse last season and finished with 24 points. He’s a center who has kind of been buried on depth chart in the Tampa organization.
Here’s a question I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around. Why do the Lightning want Puljujarvi? Why would Tampa want a player that fans in Edmonton say has no heart, no work ethic and isn’t committed to learning to play the game in North America? The Bolts are a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, yet they apparently have interest in Puljujarvi. The only thing I can think of is that Tampa GM Julien BriseBois was a big fan of JP in his draft year and blames the Oilers for the players struggle. If BriseBois thinks the Lightning can put Puljujarvi in a position to succeed he may also be willing to pay Holland’s price. I’d still have the Hurricanes as the best fit as a trading partner but the Lightning certainly are intriguing.
Previously by Dustin Nielson:
- TEN TIDBITS: Jesse Puljujarvi Edition
- Lucky Number Six
- TEN TIDBITS: August Edition
- Projection Season: The Hockey News
- Ten Way Too Early Predictions