The Vancouver Canucks remained busy Friday as they made another big trade by shipping top-four defenseman Jason Garrison to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In return, Vancouver receives the 50th overall pick in this year’s draft, while the Lightning also get the rights to prospect Jeff Costello and the Canucks’ seventh-round pick in 2015.
That’s quite a haul for the Lightning for very, very little in giving up just a second-round pick. Tampa Bay actually has two first-round selections in this year’s draft including their own and that of the New York Rangers as part of the Martin St. Louis trade, so there's very little concern in parting with that 50th overall pick.
The Lightning address an immediate need on the blue line, giving Victor Hedman a possible partner on the top pairing, while also bolstering their power-play unit. Garrison, who is a left-shot defenseman who plays a lot on the right side, has a big, but not too big $4.6 million cap hit and is under contract until 2017-18.
He posted 33 points last season including seven goals.
Garrison shores up a defensive unit that includes Hedman, Radko Gudas, Matt Carle and Eric Brewer, with some younger guys like Andrej Sustr coming up through the ranks. That's not a bad spot to be in for a team that is looking to build a Stanley Cup contender. They're not quite there yet, presumably, but Steve Yzerman is building something interesting in Tampa.
Garrison had to waive his no-trade clause in order to get the deal done. He'll have some familiarity playing in Florida as he was a member of the Panthers for four seasons. In his last year with the Cats, he put up a career-best 16 goals which bolstered his reputation as a power-play weapon.
The Lightning could be a high-scoring club with some terrific young players to surround Steven Stamkos with and a defense that won't be shy to jump into the offensive play. They'll be an exciting team to watch.
The Canucks are quite clearly in a salary dump mode currently, shedding big contracts like Garrison's and Ryan Kesler's earlier to the Anaheim Ducks. Either they have big plans for free agency or new GM Jim Benning is preparing a rather big rebuilding project.
Benning may have more up his sleeve, but dealing two productive veterans on the same day for what would appear to be less than max value is going to ruffle a few feathers in Vancouver.
It'll be interesting to see just how much more Vancouver is willing to do, or is planning to do, heading into this free agent period and even moreso during the first round of the draft Friday night.