The Tampa Bay Lightning have traded forward Brian Boyle and starting goaltender Ben Bishop in the last 24 hours for a couple of draft picks and minor league prospects.
While the Bishop trade can be understood, with Andrei Vasilevskiy signed to a three-year contract extension this past summer, trading him and Boyle around the same time is one horrible move.
Simply put, both players were veterans that weren’t afraid to speak up and demand change when the Lightning needed it most. Neither was the captain or alternate captain, but in a season where both Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan have been injured for a good chunk of time Boyle and Bishop kept the team afloat.
In essence, they were the team leaders. Both gave 110 percent every day and kept the Tampa Bay Lightning within striking distance of a playoff spot. Each one was integral during the recent seven-game point streak that got Tampa Bay within four points of being a part of the postseason conversation, not the footnote they were most of this season.
Now both are gone. Boyle to Toronto and Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings. Tampa Bay’s already slim playoff hopes likely went with them. A team predicted by many to win the Stanley Cup is left to play over a months worth of meaningless games, thanks in large part to a disappointing season and two trades that send the message to forget the postseason.
Long term, the Tampa Bay Lightning might have won these trades. General manager Steve Yzerman probably pulled off a miracle in getting what he did (Byron Froese, Erik Cernak, Peter Budaj and draft picks) for the guys who departed. Unfortunately, that’s little solace for a team and fanbase that had such high hopes of achieving something special this year.