Tampa Bay Lightning Make Shocking Trade; Acquire Geekie, Moser From Utah HC

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft began yesterday, and there were no major moves in terms of trades. Day two, however, has seen some blockbuster trades. One including a shocking turn of events as Tampa Bay Lightning general manager, Julien Brise-Bois, made headline news by trading away Mikhail Sergachev. The Lightning traded the star defenseman to the Utah Hockey Club during the second round of the 2024 NHL Draft on Saturday. In return, the Lightning received J.J. Moser, Conor Geekie, Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2025 draft, and the 199th pick in this year’s draft, which led to them taking Noah Steen. This trade comes as a major surprise to some, if not most of the fanbase. Sergachev has been a big part of the team since being acquired by the Montreal Canadiens in 2017 for Jonathan Drouin and a conditional sixth-round draft pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft – a trade in which the Lightning came out on top in.

The start of Sergachev’s career with the Canadiens lasted just three games to start the 2016-17 season before being sent back to his Ontario Hockey League team, Windsor Spitfires. With the Spitfires that season, Sergachev picked up where he left off the 2015-16 season. In 50 regular-season games with Windsor, he tallied 10 goals and 33 assists for 43 points and was a +22 on the season. In 2015-16, he tallied 17 goals and 40 assists for 57 points in 67 games with the Spitfires. The Canadiens would call Sergachev up to the team, but only saw time in one game before being dealt to the Lightning. He had zero points and a +1 rating in those four games with Montreal.

Sergachev shined in his first-full season in the NHL and first with the Bolts. Sergachev would crack the main roster to begin the 2017-18 season. He was trusted with decent minutes, averaging 15:21 ice-time per game. The Nizhnekamsk, RUS native notched nine goals and 31 assists for 40 points with 141 shots in 79 games to start his Lightning career. This would be backed with a +11 rating, 3 powerplay goals, and 13 powerplay assists with five game-winning goals. Sergy would have a solid career in Tampa, not to say there were not slips in his game, but still an important piece in the Lightning’s three-straight Stanley Cup Final appearances where they won the first two of those three. In his seven years with the Bolts, Sergachev played 471 regular-season games notching 48 goals and 209 assists for 257 points and a +46 defenseman. Sergy reached the 100-playoff-games mark with the Lightning tallying nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points.

Much like Victor Hedman, Sergachev is a very offensive-minded defenseman, joining the rush at any chance he had. That, combined with the shot power he generated were big reasons for his 48 goals as a defenseman. So why was this trade made? Simple answer – to create cap space. For what? Many hoping for a Steven Stamkos re-sign, rumors swirling around that the Lightning are interested in Jake Guentzel, and/or for a Hedman extension which can be completed when free agency begin July 1st. With Sergachev traded and Tanner Jeannot traded to the LA Kings minutes later, both with no salary retained by the Lightning, they have opened up a projected $16.5 million for this season. Reports for Stamkos are he is looking for 4-5 million based on term and according to Elliotte Friedman on the Pat McAfee Show, Guentzel was asking the Carolina Hurricanes for an 8-year contract with an AAV of $8 million which they are willing to do, but it is not in place yet. While it may not be entirely possible to get both, the Lightning have options and the cap space should, for some reason, contract talks with Stamkos be completely out of the question.

Welcome to Tampa

If Lightning fans should take anything out of this trade, it should be excitement for the newest member, Conor Geekie. Geekie is a young star that spent the last four years in the Western Hockey League between the Winnipeg Ice, newly added Wenatchee Wild, and Swift Current Broncos. Geekie is a solid two-way player and it cannot be said enough. He tallied 111 goals and 158 assists for 269 points in his 215-regular-season-game junior career with an insane +157 rating, proving he plays on both ends of the ice. He made played in the playoffs three years, twice with the Ice and once with the Broncos. He tallied a combined 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points and a +7 in 43 playoff games.

Geekie was drafted by the then Arizona Coyotes with the 11th pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Listed at 6 foot 4 and 196 pounds as a center, he can bring size and strength down the middle for the Lightning, something do not really have. Though he may not be on the Lightning roster right off the rip as he has two professional games under his belt with the Tucson Road Runners, time with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL will help him boost his game either further as his acceleration will need to be worked on a bit. His ability to be patient with the puck, even under pressure, will be a good addition. However, he will need to work on shooting in stride rather shooting through glide to prevent defenders from reading a shot is coming.

J.J. Moser is set to be a Restricted Free Agent July 1st, but will add to the Lightning’s defensive depth should they get a contract done. While his stats are not the best, tallying 16 goals and 56 assists for 72 points and a -27 rating in 205 games played, he is just 24 years old and started his NHL career with a struggling Coyotes team. His smooth skating and soft hands allow him to hop up in the play. Even with the puck in the offensive zone, he drives the net if he sees an opening to create the best scoring chances possible.

Playing on the second-line defensive pairing with a seasoned veteran such as Ryan McDonagh could be a big help to Moser in adjusting to a different style of game. Should he actually be paired on the second line with McDonagh, he’ll have the chance to continue his offensive-defensive play so long as it is a smart play. McDonagh is more of a stay-at-home defenseman, which would allow Moser more freedom to smartly join the play and create chances.

Next up is the NHL Free Agency which begins July 1st. The Lightning still have quite a bit to figure out if they do not have a plan set already. It will be interesting to see what comes out over the next few days leading up to what could be a franchise-altering day.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Zachary Alvarado

Inside The Rink journalist covering the Wheeling Nailers and Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL. I am a Duquesne University Sports Information and Media major graduating in December. I have been passionate about hockey since I was 4 years old.

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