On the eve of the NHL’s signing period for free agency, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks parted ways with key wheels in Stanley Cup-winning eras for both franchises, giving both some maneuverability going forward.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay traded forward Tyler Johnson and a draft of the second round from 2023 to Chicago in exchange for defender Brent Seabrook, both teams announced in a complicated move involving a lengthy injury.
“I want to thank Tyler personally for what he has meant to this organization over the past nine years,” Tampa Bay CEO Julien BriseBois told the club in a press release announcing the swap. “He played a crucial role in the success the team has had and will forever be remembered as a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Bolts. We wish him all the best in Chicago.”
Johnson, 30, had just eight goals and 22 points in a limited role for Lightning this season, but occupied important minutes in the mail season and was a contributor to the last two mail season runs, both of which ended with a Tampa Bay title.
“Tyler Johnson adds a great deal of skill and depth to our offense. His versatility across the lineup, two-way play and championship experience throughout his career makes our lineup stronger,” Chicago manager Stan Bowman said in his team’s press release. “We look forward to seeing the immediate impact he has on our team.”
An undeclared veteran, Johnson is signed through the 2023-24 season with a pay cap of $ 5 million, and when Lightning backs up against the cap, he became usable. He has 161 goals and 361 points for his career, and there were some who thought the Native Americans in Spokane, Washington might end up with the Seattle Kraken expansion in their first offseason. But instead, he will join the training of the Blackhawks, who have been pretty busy the last week.
Bowman has said Chicago is in a rebuild, but over the past week, he has accelerated the timeline. On Friday, the Blackhawks traded for defender Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets and gave him an AAV contract of $ 9.5 million.
So earlier on Tuesday, the Blackhawks traded for goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights. Chicago had wanted to add veteran goaltending this season, but decided to really go for it when the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was made available. However, Fleury, 36, wanted to end his career in Las Vegas, sources said, creating a dramatic day in both cities.
Fleury knew the deal was possible, but was surprised when it came down Tuesday anyway. As such, the veteran has decided to take the time to see if he will report to the Blackhawks for the final year of his $ 7 million contract, or just retire.
According to sources, Bowman spoke to Fleury on Tuesday afternoon and told him the team would respect him with enough time and space to make his decision.
Seabrook, 36, is a former selection of the Blackhawks in the first round – overall No. 14 in 2003 – and was a mainstay on the blue line in three Stanley Cup races in Chicago.
He is third in franchise history in games played (1,114) and one of only four Chicago defenders to top 100 goals. Seabrook also had 20 goals and 59 points in 123 careers after season games for the Blackhawks.
But he missed the entire final season with a hip injury and will remain under the NHL’s long-term injured reserve title for the remainder of his contract, Lightning confirmed. He, too, is signed through the 2023-24 season and carries a cap hit of $ 6.8 million. But because of the LTIR designation, he does not count with Tampa Bay’s hood.
“I would first like to thank Brent for his cooperation in this process,” Bowman said. “Throughout his career, Brent put his team first, and we appreciate all of his many accomplishments and contributions to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He will be remembered as a champion and will always be part of the Blackhawks family.”