Domingue Trade: Minor, Yet Smart, Yzerman Move

With the Tampa Bay Lightning sitting at the top of the standings with a 14-2-2 record, Steve Yzerman was at it again with another subtle move to improve his organization on Tuesday. Per Chris Nichols, the Lightning acquired goaltender Louis Domingue from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for goaltender Michael Leighton and forward Tye McGinn, who were members of the Lightning’s AHL Affiliate Syracuse Crunch.

Domingue, a fifth-round draft choice by the Coyotes in 2010, got off to a rough start to the 2017-18 season with the league’s worst team. The 25-year-old is 0-7-0 with 4.33 goals-against average and 0.856 save percentage. The Coyotes decided to waive the Quebec native on October 29 and sent him down to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL, where he did not see any action due to the team’s depth in goal. The Lightning will pay $1.05 million of Domingue’s salary as he is carrying a one-way contract in the AHL.

Coyotes re-sign Louis Domingue, Arizona Coyotes, NHL
The Coyotes traded Domingue to the Lightning on Tuesday after he cleared waivers on October 30. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Leighton signed a one-year deal with the Lightning last summer. The 36-year-old was supposed to bring some experience to the Crunch and mentor young goaltender Connor Ingram, but he hasn’t had the sharpest numbers with a 3.03 goals-against and 0.868 save-percentage in nine games. McGinn, who also signed a one-year deal recently, had five points in eleven games for the Lightning’s AHL Affiliate.

Domingue’s Career Still Carries Hope

As mentioned, Domingue is only 25-years-old and this was his fourth season at the NHL level. Domingue has won 27 of his 84 games for the Coyotes with a 3.01 goals-against-average and 0.906 save-percentage in his career. Those aren’t the most enticing numbers, though it should be noted that the Quebec native was on a Coyotes team that has finished near the bottom of the league in each season he played. There were times where he looked good enough to overtake Mike Smith for the number one spot in goal.

Louis Domingue Arizona Coyotes goaltender
Louis Domingue. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This doesn’t mean that Domingue has the potential to be a starting goalie in the NHL, but surely is a solid goaltender to have at number three on the Lightning’s depth chart. We could see Domingue as the Lightning’s backup behind Andrei Vasilevskiy someday as well. The Coyotes’ fifth-rounder will see his contract expire at the end of this season, while Lightning backup goaltender Petr Budaj still has an extra year remaining after signing a two-year contract with the team last summer. Domingue will be playing for a chance to stick with his new organization for more than just the rest of the season, and for a potential backup spot in the NHL at some point in the near future.

Losing Leighton and McGinn Is No Sacrifice

Although the Lightning gave up two players in this trade, Yzerman hardly made any sacrifices in acquiring Domingue. Both Leighton and McGinn were pending UFAs at the end of this season and were likely going to be let go anyway. Leighton had been struggling with the Crunch so far and Yzerman decided that it would be best to make the move now to fix the goaltending situation in Syracuse. McGinn isn’t a bad player to have on an AHL team, but the Lightning could afford to lose the 27-year-old as the team is already deep in the forward position.

This makes it a very reasonable deal to make for Yzerman. While there’s no guarantee Domingue will pan out, the Lightning hardly gave up anything to get him. With McGinn being the extra man in the deal, the Lightning also opened up an extra roster spot on forward, which could come into play in another trade sometime in the future. The team has recently been rumoured to be searching for a top-nine winger to play on their NHL roster.

Whether or not this leads to something else remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the Lightning get a younger goaltender who comes in with something to prove and a second shot at being a pro for very little cost, therefore making it another one of Yzerman’s smart moves.