Sometimes, all it takes is one move to make a great situation look significantly worse. Heading into the final minutes of the 2020 trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to have everything in place. They made their big trade one week earlier, acquiring Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils for top-prospect Nolan Foote and a 2020 first-round draft pick.
By itself, this trade was a bit of a departure for the Lighting, who in recent years have either made blockbuster trades on deadline day or just sat out the event. Last season, for example, general manager Julien BriseBois played it safe due, in no small part, to the team being the best in the league at the time.
Coleman’s acquisition, on the other hand, was a smart move by BriseBois, but it wasn’t safe. The Lightning gave up two key assets for a player that was a luxury add for the franchise but was also someone who could make an impact in the playoffs. In all, it was a risky trade, but it made sense given the situation.
This trade, along with the signing of Zach Bogosian to add depth to an injured defensive corps, seemed to wrap up the Lightning’s needs. Heading into the final minutes of the deadline, I was ready to slap a B-plus on the Lightning’s moves and call it a day.
Goodrow Trade Smacks of Confusion
That was, of course, before the Lightning acquired Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks. In a vacuum, this move is perfectly fine, as Swiss-army-knife forwards like Goodrow are always important during a deep playoff run.
The return for Goodrow, on the other hand, felt like a big overpayment. The Lightning gave up a 2020 first-round selection in exchange for the forward and a third-round selection.
If the Lightning had given up a first for a top-four defenseman to help alleviate the rash of injuries they suffered this month, that would be understandable. But trading a first-round selection for what amounts to a luxury add just feels like a big miss by BriseBois.
Lightning Lack Space for Goodrow
If the Lightning were in a different situation, adding Goodrow for a premium return may make sense. But as a natural center, he already feels redundant on their roster. This franchise is loaded with center talent, with players like Tyler Johnson shifting to the wing just to get consistent playing time.
Also, by bringing in Goodrow and Coleman, Tampa Bay will need to sit rookies Carter Verhaeghe or Mitchell Stephens, two players who were in the midst of a solid season. Sitting on the bench or returning to the American Hockey League won’t help their development, so that’s another mark against this trade.
If that weren’t enough, what Goodrow will bring the most of to the team, heart and grit, the Lightning aren’t lacking in this season. With the addition of Pat Maroon in the offseason along with players like Coleman, Tampa Bay already seemed to have their ‘heart and soul’ players sorted out.
Goodrow Needs to Prove Lightning Right
Unfortunately for Goodrow, he is going to have an uphill battle finding his place amongst the Lightning. Not only will his time on the ice be limited due to his style of play, but everything he does will be viewed through the lens of a first-round selection.
Sure, he could that sensation who comes off the bench in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to score a game-winning goal… but he could just as easily be a player who finds himself scratched in the postseason, lacking any real place with the franchise.
Honestly, what this trade feels like is a bit of an overcorrection. Last year, the Lightning flamed out of the playoffs due to a lack of players like Goodrow to step up when times were tough. This season, BriseBois added as many of these players as he could, perhaps without a vision of how they would fit into the franchise.
Hopefully, Goodrow will find his place with the franchise, giving the Lightning that bump they need to win the Stanley Cup because anything less will be seen as an even bigger failure after going ‘all-in’ at the deadline.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.