The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired forward Tyler Johnson and a 2023 2nd round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Brent Seabrook.
The Lightning have found a way to get out of their cap troubles again. They unload Johnson and his high cap hit without having to give up a first-round pick or solid roster player as a sweetener. Seabrook is a flashy name, but do not be fooled by his past performances and think Tampa Bay got somebody. The veteran defender previously retired from hockey. He still has three seasons left on his contract that carries a $6.875 million cap hit. He will go on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) for the remaining years. The Blackhawks mostly trade away Seabrook so the Lightning would be responsible for the money left on the deal. As they clear $5 million from Johnson’s salary, the team can now sign RFAs Ross Colton, Cal Foote, and Alex Barre-Boulet, while also having a shot at leaving UFA Blake Coleman or any other upgrades.
The Blackhawks are going for it this upcoming season, which is respectable. But GM Stan Bowman just is not doing it right. The team was not good last year. Adding Seth Jones then giving him $9.5 million a year while trading Adam Boqvist and making the risky move of trading for a potentially retired Marc-Andre Fleury could easily make them worse. This is another example. They take on $5 million of Johnson for the next three seasons, while they currently are pressed up against the cap, about as bad as Tampa was. At this stage in his career, Johnson is not the dynamic top-six player who can approach 30 goals. He was a fourth-liner during the team’s two Stanley Cup wins and he will not be much better in Chicago. His ceiling now is third-line center. The second-round pick is nice, but not worth the contract risk over three seasons.
Johnson, who will be 31 this week, scored eight goals with 14 assists for 22 points in 55 games for the Lightning in 2020-21. In his NHL career, all for Tampa Bay, Johnson has scored 161 goals with 200 assists for 361 points in 589 games.