Is the Lightning’s Killorn a Sell-High Candidate?

Every franchise has that player. That player who has been around for longer than you can imagine, who played well enough to garner a lengthy and/or expensive contract but has never lived up to that extension.

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, that player has been Alex Killorn for a while. As the franchise’s third-round pick at the 2007 draft, Killorn has been with the organization for well over a decade now, representing a major part of the youth movement that helped to redefine the Lightning in the early to mid-2010s.

Alex Killorn was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2007 Draft, meaning that he has been with the franchise longer than Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

After Killorn enjoyed some successful seasons, then-general manager Steve Yzerman decided to lock him down, signing the forward to a seven-year, $31.15 million extension back in 2016. At the time, the contract seemed a bit long, even if the cap-hit wasn’t too unreasonable for a player of Killorn’s stature within the franchise.

The problem with this signing, however, is that Killorn is an incredibly streaky scorer. While his season totals always look solid, posting 15-plus goals and 40-plus points consistently, this point accumulation often occurred over the course of only a handful of games. For the rest of the season, Killorn would be invisible on the ice, disappearing for weeks at a time from the scoresheet.

Killorn Found His Game in 2019-20

One of the biggest surprises of the 2019-20 season for the Lightning has been Killorn’s breakout. Throughout the first 50 games of the season, he has posted a career-high 21 goals and 40 points already to his name. At this rate, he should easily break his other previous career-highs and could sniff 30 goals and 60 points.

Due to this strong play, one has to ask, should the Lightning consider trading Killorn? While it may seem a bit foolish to suggest trading him right now, less than a season ago, the idea of getting out from under his contract was a constant discussion, especially as his play failed to evolve.

With an incoming cap-crunch, being able to move on from Killorn’s contract sooner rather than later could be a big win for the Lightning, especially if they can bring back a premium prospect or a first-round draft pick in the process.

JT Miller Vancouver Canucks
A good example of a comparable trade for Killorn is J.T. Miller, whom the Lightning traded to the Vancouver Canucks for first and a third-round draft pick while clearing close to $5 million in cap space. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, the counter-argument to trading Killorn is simple… why would the Lightning want to part ways with a veteran player who is reaching his prime and is locked down to a reasonable contract? Simply put, Killorn is one of the best values for Tampa Bay this season, especially when you consider that his point totals are amongst the team’s best.

Lightning Should Keep Killorn, for Now

If given the option, the cap-crunched Lightning should seriously consider selling high on Killorn, but only in the 2020 offseason. The last thing this team should do is part ways with a red-hot veteran forward at the deadline who has proven playoff experience.

Tampa Bay Lightning Alex Killorn
Barring a truly exceptional offer at the deadline, the Lightning should only sell-high on Killorn in the 2020 offseason. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Due to this, it would make no sense to sell high on Killorn at the deadline, even if he is at the peak of his value. Hopefully, he will continue this strong play not only in the 2020 postseason but throughout the rest of the contract he signed back in 2016.