The Chicago Blackhawks have made another trade.
This time, they sent Brent Seabrook’s contract to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Tyler Johnson and a 2023 second-round pick. ESPN reporter Emily Kaplan broke the news on Twitter and the team later confirmed the news:
Two-time Stanley Cup champion forward Tyler Johnson is a Blackhawk‼️— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 28, 2021
We also acquired a 2023 2nd round pick in the deal, in exchange for the rights to Brent Seabrook. pic.twitter.com/hOHML1ayRy
Johnson, who turns 31 on Thursday, is a veteran of 589 games in 9 NHL seasons, with 161 goals and 200 assists tallied. He’s also appeared in 116 postseason games with 32 goals and 33 assists. Johnson was one of Tampa’s top offensive threats earlier in his career, especially in the 2014-15 season that ended with the Lightning losing to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. His role has diminished of late, though, as he averaged just 13:40 of ice time in 55 regular season games in 2021, scoring 8 goals with 14 assists. His average ice time was down to 10:06 in 23 postseason games as Tampa won the Stanley Cup in 2021.
The salary cap ramifications are the primary point of this deal, though. Johnson has three seasons remaining on a 7-year, $35 million contract that he signed in July 2017. The annual cap hit of $5 million is now the Blackhawks’ problem. How much Johnson is able to produce in the final years of his contract will be something to watch.
Tyler Johnson could still provide some value for Chicago this upcoming season, but the final two years on his deal look dicey given the trajectory of his closest comps. pic.twitter.com/p82f7q5Wgf— dom at the athletic (@domluszczyszyn) July 28, 2021
Seabrook obviously will not be playing for Tampa after announcing in March that his hockey career was over due to a slew of injuries that had taken their toll on the veteran of 15 NHL seasons, all in Chicago. However, his contract can be placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve, which would help the cap-strapped Lightning. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet spelled that out in a tweet:
Not only did the #TBLightning solve immediate cap issues with this Tyler Johnson trade, they actually created ~$1.8M in additional space since they'll now operate in LTIR with Brent Seabrook's deal on the books.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 28, 2021
According to CapFriendly, the Blackhawks now have just under $2.5 million in salary cap space to work with with free agency opening on Wednesday.