The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade that also included the Detroit Red Wings ahead of the 2021 trade deadline. The Blue Jackets and Red Wings both retained money on Savard. Columbus received Tampa Bay’s first round pick in 2021 along with Tampa Bay’s third round pick in 2022. The Red Wings acquired Tampa Bay’s fourth round pick in 2021. The Lightning also received minor-league defenseman Brian Lashoff.
Since breaking into the league during the 2011-12 season, Savard has spent his entire career with the Blue Jackets, who drafted him with the 94th pick of the 2009 draft. The 30-year-old has 166 points through 597 games in the NHL. The native of Quebec now moves on to Tampa Bay where he will be expected to fortify their already impressive defense ahead of the playoffs.
Throughout his career, Savard has mostly been a top-four, no frills defenseman that takes care of things in his own end. With a career average ice-time of over 20 minutes, he handles important minutes as a defensive force for his team. He isn’t afraid to throw his body in front of pucks as he has had six seasons where he has recorded over 100 blocked shots – and he looks to be on his way to adding a seventh season. He also isn’t afraid to throw his body at other players as he has had seven seasons with over 100 hits – and he’s just a few hits away from notching his eighth. He’s a warrior-type of player that plays a game that is tailor-made for the playoffs.
In fact, through 37 playoff games with the Blue Jackets, his average ice-time leaps forward by a few minutes, to the total of 23:38. Columbus head coach John Tortorella has had no problems with throwing Savard over the boards during the biggest moments. He’ll look to carry that experience and reliability over to his new team as they look to go on a healthy playoff run in the Discover Central Division.
At a $4.25 million cap-hit, Savard is in the final year of his deal and will be a free agent this offseason. Of course, depending on his fit with his new team, the Lightning could look to re-sign him ahead of the free agency period, where he would become a highly sought-after commodity.
The Lightning are adding a playoff-tested right-handed defender to a blue line group that already features Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Mikhail Sergachev. While they have received solid contributions from young players like Cal Foote and Ben Thomas, this move rounds out their defensive group so that they are not relying too heavily on inexperienced players. Savard will have to quarantine for a week before joining his teammates, but he should find a fit alongside any one of their top end defenders. Lashoff also provides them with additional defensive depth.
For the Blue Jackets, this is a clear move towards resetting for next season. Despite trading for all-star winger Patrik Laine, as well as center Jack Roslovic, from the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the season, Columbus could never gain any traction this season. With a prospect pool that leaves much to be desired, as well as a roster that has seen its chances of making the playoffs slowly slip away, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen did good to add some future assets for the only organization in the NHL (outside of the Seattle Kraken) that hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs. While Savard was a steady force for them for many years, this move paves the way for a reshuffling of the deck heading into next season, as well as adding some needed draft/prospect capital.
The Blue Jackets sit in seventh place in the Discover Central Division with 14 games left to go. The Lightning are tied for second in the Central with 16 games left to go. The Red Wings are last in the division and now hold eight picks in the first four rounds of the 2021 draft.