The NHL’s newest team announced their expansion draft selections during tonight’s NHL Awards Show. From the Tampa Bay Lightnin, the Las Vegas Golden Knights selected veteran defenseman Jason Garrison.
Originally traded to the Lightning in June of 2014, Garrison has been a veteran presence on Tampa’s maturing blueline. Over the past three seasons in Tampa, he registered 10 goals and 40 assists. He’s a part of NHL history, scoring the first three-on-three overtime goal when the format was introduced in the 2015-16 season.
Las Vegas also acquired the Lightning’s second round pick in the 2017 draft, Pittsburgh’s fourth round selection in the 2018 draft, and negotiating rights with unsigned prospect Nikita Gusev. Gusev has been a highly touted prospect since being selected in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. He also has one year left on his current contract with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL and no immediate plans to come to North America.
While it may seem like a hefty price to pay, the Lightning lose Garrison’s $4.6 million cap hit from their books. Combine that with Jonathan Drouin‘s move to Montreal and that gives GM Steve Yzerman some bank to work with. Yzerman was also able to protect two of his team’s best young defensemen in Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin in the deal.
“We’ve got some young players, Jake, Slater, we want to give them an opportunity to make our team,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “And we’re also looking at ways we can improve our team. And in order to do that, we needed some cap space. We’re keeping an eye on the future.”
Yzerman on Koekkoek: “He really matured as a player + evolved as a player + he will get an opportunity to compete for a spot”
Garrison was not surprised: “Until it happens, you don’t know. But people were texting me, telling me they were reading, seeing on the news. I’ll miss Tampa. But it’s a new chapter.”
Steve Yzerman on Garrison: “We’re really sad to see him leave b/c he’s exactly the type of person and player we want to keep in our organization.”
The trade freeze lifts tomorrow morning at 9 am EST and the Lightning are likely not done yet.
“We’ll wait and see what happens in the next day or so and reassess the situation and see if there are hypothetical opportunities,” Yzerman said. “We’re going to explore every opportunity to make our team better.”
Yzerman also said he’s “very interested”/ hopeful in re-signing UFA Yanni Gourde. “He had a fantastic season.”