For the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2022 Trade Deadline will likely be unexciting compared to recent years. After going all-in in both 2020 and 2021, general manager Julien BriseBois finds himself in a precarious position against the cap. Yes, he will want to add depth to help the Lightning push for their third-straight Stanley Cup, but even after using some creative accounting once again with Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) they simply have $0 of cap space available to make a move as of now.
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Despite this restriction, it is also unlikely that BriseBois will be content to sit on his hands at the deadline. He has consistently shown that he will do whatever it takes to improve his team, even if that means giving up a significant amount of future assets to do so. However, with the Lightning playing well at the moment, he shouldn’t be looking to break the bank in order to force a trade, either.
This leaves the Lightning with is a very limited range of players who could be traded in order to clear cap space. When looking at their roster, the only name that really fits these restrictions is rookie Boris Katchouk, who has played well enough in his 37 starts this season, but with only two goals and six points in those games, he really hasn’t found a rhythm with the team when compared to fellow rookie Taylor Raddysh.
So, using the idea that they could trade Katchouk to give themselves a little bit of cap space at the deadline, the Lightning would then be working with a grand total of $758,333. This isn’t a lot of space, but it’s something to at least start a conversation with.
Lightning Could Find Meaningful Value With Geekie
With this meager amount of cap space, next you have to look around the league to see if there’s even a player making less than this amount on a selling team who would be an upgrade on what Katchouk can bring to the ice. Normally this would be a near-impossible task, as he is 23-years-old, has a power forward frame, and features a decent amount of offensive upside.
However, when looking over various names that could be available, one player stood out: Morgan Geekie of the Seattle Kraken. As an original expansion draftee by the Kraken, there were great expectations put upon Geekie heading into the 2021-22 season. Many felt that he could be one of the franchise’s first stars, as he had solid offensive instincts to complement his big 6-foot-2 frame.
Related: Meet the Kraken: Morgan Geekie
Much like the entire inaugural season for the Kraken, Geekie hasn’t had the easiest transition to Seattle. While his underlying play has been solid, his scoring just hasn’t been there, as he only has four goals and 15 points in 53 games played despite taking on a career-high 12:25 seconds each night. So, the effort is there, but the results just haven’t come with them.
For the Lightning, a player like Geekie could be enticing, as he has a great toolkit and size to build upon. Perhaps playing alongside spark plugs like Raddysh and Ross Colton could help take that next step in his career, and if he fell into a scoring rhythm, he would add valuable depth for a postseason run.
Most importantly, he is on a one-year contract carrying a $750,000 cap hit, which means he could slide under if Katchouk was part of the deal to bring him to Tampa Bay.
Why Would Tampa Bay Trade Katchouk for Geekie?
Now, the real question for Tampa Bay becomes, would trading Katchouk plus more be worth it to the franchise to bring back Geekie? On paper, the players are very similar, as they are both 23-years-old, roughly 6-foot-2, and played well in their respective minor league clubs before taking on a smaller role in the NHL.
However, there are a few important differences. For one, Katchouk has a more physical presence with his size, as he has laid down nearly 100 hits in just 37 games played. Geekie, on the other hand, only has 35 hits in 53 games played.
What sets Geekie apart is the fact that he is a centerman, which holds more value in the NHL. While he can play on the wing, he’s best utilized down the middle, and the Lightning have a history of unlocking the full potential of their centers, both big and small. If they could help him put together his size and scoring, he could become a dominant third-liner who wins faceoffs and takes on playing time both on the powerplay and the penalty kill.
So, what Tampa Bay would be acquiring at the 2022 trade deadline wouldn’t just be Geekie, but it would be his potential for the next two to three seasons. With his contract expiring this offseason, he has one more round as a restricted free agent, meaning that BriseBois could lock him down to a low-cost bridge deal to give him time to try and put it all together for the Lightning.
Potential isn’t cheap, however, so it would likely cost more than just Katchouk to make a deal happen with the Kraken. However, sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit more to get a player that could be a perfect fit for the franchise. For the Lightning, Geekie could be that player, and he could be well worth spending a few future assets to try and unlock his full potential with Tampa Bay.
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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.