The 2019-20 NHL season will go down as one of the weirdest in league history. With the coronavirus halting play and no timetable for a return, there’s a real possibility that the league will not be able to finish out the season, or worse, crown the next Stanley Cup Champion.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, a potentially lost season hits even harder. After melting down in the 2019 Playoffs, the franchise needed a deep run to help purge some of last year’s demons.
Until the break, the Lightning were doing everything they could to put themselves in a position to win it all. Despite a weak start, they surged in January, becoming one of the top-five teams in the league before the season was suspended.
In fact, at the 2020 trade deadline, the Lightning went all in, making two big moves to add playoff-defining players to their roster. With the acquisition of Black Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, Tampa Bay added new veteran talent to shore up their lineup for the playoffs.
With the postseason in jeopardy, it’s easy to wonder if these moves were made at the right time. However, even if the playoffs don’t happen in 2020, these trades won’t be a waste for the franchise.
Lightning Traded for More Than One Season
See, the whole reason why the Lightning gave up a premium for those two players was due to one simple reason: their contracts. Both Goodrow and Coleman are under contract through the 2020-21 season, making them more than just a rental.
Also, both players are on relatively affordable deals next season. Coleman, who is a 20-goal scorer, is making $1.8 million, where Goodrow is carrying a $925,000 cap-hit.
If the Lightning had traded for a traditional rental at the deadline, this work stoppage would have been devastating, as the team would have given up two first-round draft selections and a top prospect for what amounted to less than a month of work from these players.
Instead, even if the worst-case scenario happens and the season is lost, the Lightning are still in good shape. Their deadline acquisitions will get a normal offseason and training camp to work with their new coaches and teammates before taking on the 2020-21 season ready to win it all.
How Coleman and Goodrow Fit for the Playoffs
Of course, those deadline acquisitions weren’t made just for the 2020-21 season. If things can get back to normal this season, then Lightning fans will get to see why a premium was paid for Goodrow and Coleman. These players are built for the playoffs after all, and before play was suspended they were starting to showcase what they could bring to Tampa Bay.
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In a playoffs-esque game against the Boston Bruins, Goodrow showed that he could add that mythical ‘grit’ to the lineup, helping to spark the Lightning to a win with a fight and hard hits.
While Coleman has yet to bring his offensive game to Tampa Bay, his 25 hits in 9 games put him on pace to be a leader in that department for the franchise. If he starts scoring while keeping up the physical play, that combination could be a difference-maker in a tight playoff series.
If Season Continues, Lightning’s Deadline Acquisitions Will Be Ready
If the playoffs happen, both Coleman and Goodrow have shown that they can bring a needed element to the Lightning’s line-up that can help the franchise take the next step towards winning a Stanley Cup.
No matter what happens to the 2019-20 NHL season, the Lightning have to be feeling good about their trade deadline decisions. At the moment, it felt like management overpaid, but by giving up a bit more they managed to bring back players who will help the franchise now and for the future.
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.