The Tampa Bay Lightning said goodbye to another key part of their back-to-back Stanley Cup championship roster on Tuesday night when they sent Tyler Johnson to the Chicago Blackhawks in another salary cap clearing move.
The trade: Johnson and a 2023 second-round pick go to Chicago in exchange for defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Obviously the key here for Tampa Bay is shedding the remainder of Johnson’s contract which runs through the end of the 2023-24 season (another three seasons) at $5 million per year. While he had a nice performance in the playoffs this season he is clearly a player in decline that the Lightning have been trying to shed for two years now. They went as far as to place him on waivers a year ago with nobody taking his contract. They paid a second-round pick to get rid of it this offseason.
In exchange the Lightning will take on the remainder of Seabrook’s contract, knowing he will not play in the NHL again. Seabrook’s deal runs for another three seasons with a salary cap hit of $6.875 million per season. The Lightning will simply place him on the Long-Term Injured List every season.
Johnson spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Lightning, playing in three Stanley Cup Finals (winning two of them) and scoring 161 goals with 200 assists (361 total points) in 589 regular season games.
He is another key player to be leaving the Lightning this offseason.
[Related: Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury as Golden Knights create salary cap space]
Yanni Gourde was taken by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, while Barclay Goodrow‘s free agent rights were traded to the New York Rangers where he signed a six-year deal. It is also likely that the Lightning will lose forward Blake Coleman when free agency opens on Wednesday. That line of Gourde, Goodrow, and Coleman was one of their best lines the past two years.
As for Chicago, it continues what has been an extremely busy offseason that has already seen them subtract Duncan Keith and Adam Boqvist, while also adding Seth Jones, Caleb Jones, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Johnson. It is certainly an interesting approach. The Blackhawks have been lousy for four years now and have spent a ton of money this offseason on one player that may not be as good as they think given his salary (Jones), one player that may not want to play there at all (Fleury), and one player that is simply on the decline with a contract the defending Stanley Cup champions were desperate to get rid of (Johnson).
Strange plan and spending for a team that is supposedly rebuilding.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.