With the Tampa Bay Lightning in need of a big body to win puck battles, general manager Julien Brisebois made a deal with the Nashville Predators to acquire Tanner Jeannot late on February 26.
A lot of people have talked about what they gave up (defenseman Cal Foote & five draft picks), and rightly so, as Jeannot was having a down season at the time of the trade.
While it certainly looks like the Predators won the trade, I say not so fast. This should be viewed as a risk/reward situation for several reasons.
First, Jeannot is a big body that wins puck battles and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. The Lightning need that, as both Pat Maroon and Corey Perry have aged and can’t always fight the way they’re needed to. Brisebois hoped Vladislav Namestnikov would take over that role, but he couldn’t find his footing with the current Bolts team.
Signed by the Predators as an undrafted free agent in April 2018, he made his NHL debut in the pandemic shortened 2021 season. He recorded seven points (two short-handed) in 15 games, earning him the chance to start the 2021-22 season in the big leagues.
Last year, Jeannot broke out in a big way. He tallied 41 points and 130 penalty minutes in 81 games. That total included five game-winning goals, three powerplay points, and one short-handed point.
Unfortunately, that success was short-lived, with Jeannot struggling in 56 games in Nashville. He still dropped the gloves, though, evidenced by his 85 penalty minutes.
Since joining the Lightning, Jeannot has been all over the ice. He already has three points and seven penalty minutes in five games played. That includes a fight with Riley Stillman of the Buffalo Sabres and winning a puck battle leading to a goal by Ross Colton in Tuesday night’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Losing Foote, along with three years worth of draft picks, is tough but one the Lightning could benefit from. Past trade deadline acquisitions have proven that much.
Remember Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow in 2020, David Savard in 2021, and Brandon Hagel/Nick Paul last season. All but Savard spent more than one year in a Bolts uniform, with Paul signing a seven-year contract extension to remain in Tampa Bay. They also greatly impacted this team’s recent success, going to three straight Stanley Cup Finals and winning twice.
Coleman scored a goal in Game Six of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, helping the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars to capture their second Cup in franchise history. Savard had the primary assist on Colton’s game-winning goal in a five-game series win over the Montreal Canadiens in 2021. Goodrow sacrificed his body by blocking several shots in the final minutes of both Cup clinching games. Lastly, Paul scored both goals in the Lightning’s seven game series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs a season ago.
Hagel struggled after the trade last year, but playing with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point some this season has him playing at a whole new level. His 22 goals and 50 points are career highs, and he still has time to add to those totals.
Is Jeannot going to be another trade deadline difference-maker for the Lightning? That isn’t a question that can be answered right now, but there’s a chance this move could end up being more of a reward than a risk.