The small list of NHL teams willing to sell off assets at the trade deadline grew by one on Thursday.
Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman signalled his intentions by sending forward Dominic Moore to San Jose and announcing that he was working on a deal involving Pavel Kubina. The veteran defenceman holds a limited no-trade clause and has been asked to provide a list of five teams he’d be willing to join.
Even with no deal imminent, it appears as though Kubina has played his last game for the Lightning.
“We’ve decided to protect our interest and keep Pavel off the ice until the situation is resolved,” Yzerman told reporters in Tampa, Fla.
Later in the evening, the Lightning acquired a second-round pick for Moore and a seventh-round selection.
It was the third time in the last four years the well-travelled centre has been moved ahead of the trade deadline. Moore has 19 points in 56 games this season.
The Lightning came within one goal of advancing to the Stanley Cup final last spring but have struggled to regain that form this season. Entering Thursday’s game against San Jose, the team was 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa joined a small list of teams willing to trade players ahead of the Feb. 27 trade deadline. Columbus, Edmonton and Carolina are among the others looking to make moves with an eye on the future rather than the present.
However, Yzerman cautioned that he’s not preparing for a fire sale.
“We’re not going to just give guys away,” he said. “If we come across a deal that brings in someone in return who makes us a better organization, we’re going to do that. But we’re not just going to unload guys for the sake of unloading them.”
The trade action has been slow this season with so many teams still involved in playoff races. It started to heat up Thursday and is expected to pick up momentum as more GMs decide to follow Yzerman’s lead.
Kubina offers an interesting option for contenders looking for help on the blue-line. The 34-year-old won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004—his first stint with the organization—and has an expiring contract that is currently paying him US$3.5 million.
He’ll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Yzerman acknowledged that it would be difficult to part ways with a player who is so popular in the Lightning dressing room. However, he clearly expects to yield some decent assets in return for Kubina.
“We’re making our decisions on a player-by-player basis or an opportunity-by-opportunity basis,” said Yzerman. “We see a potential opportunity to improve our club. In regards to Pavel, and as far as any other players or any other opportunities, the broader strategy is we want to be a better team in the future.”
Kubina was drafted in the seventh round by the Lightning in 1996 and spent parts of eight seasons with the team. After three years in Toronto and one more in Atlanta, he returned to Tampa prior to last season.
In 953 career NHL games, the Czech has 110 goals and 382 points.