The NHL trade deadline sits just 11 days away. We’ve seen plenty of rumors hit the market, including numerous ones about Rick Nash leaving Columbus, but now we finally have some solid news to report involving the Tampa Bay Lightning and their willingness to trade defenseman Pavel Kubina.
Kubina is being held out of the lineup and has been asked which teams he would accept a trade to, as reported by NHL.com. GM Steve Yzerman stated that a trade was not imminent but confirmed Kubina would be held out of the lineup – a clear sign that a trade may occur in the very near future.
Unlike most of the rumors out there, Tampa Bay dealing Pavel Kubina would be a deal that makes a lot of sense. Kubina becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season. If the Lighting have no intention of bringing him back beyond 2011-12, it would make sense for the club to get some value out of their defenseman instead of letting him walk free at the end of the year.
Kubina, playing in his 14th season in the NHL, has three goals and eight assists in 52 games this season. He holds a limited no-trade clause, which would mean he will have some way as to which club he might finish 2011-12 with.
For Tampa Bay, now would be the time to deal Kubina. The team is currently sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with 54 points in 56 games. After dropping five of their first seven games in February, it’s clear that now might be the time for the Lightning to start building for the future now that 2011-12 is gradually slipping out of reach. Given Kubina’s age (34) and his contract that is set to expire, it makes perfect sense for the club to deal Kubina for a prospect or pick that might improve their outlook in other areas of the ice.
The Lightning need help in net. There’s no way to cover up this fact or state it kindly. Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson have manned the pipes for the Lighting this season but neither man has had any success. In 40 appearances (36 starts) Garon has a record of 17-15-4 with a GAA of 2.90. Meanwhile, Roloson has a 7-11-2 record in 25 appearances (20 starts) with a GAA of 3.62. Clearly, these numbers aren’t enough to carry a club to the top of the standings let alone take them through a deep playoff run.
The Lightning could address their goaltending need by sending Kubina, potentially in a packaged deal, that would bring in a new goaltending prospect or a draft pick(s) that could be used to address their weaknesses. Iyzerman did admit that the issue of goaltending would likely be addressed over the summer and that prospects and draft picks are currently the top priority.
Stay tuned. This story could develop in a hurry as we get closer to the February 27th deadline.