COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade Saturday that also involved the Detroit Red Wings.
Tampa Bay gave up a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 third-rounder to Columbus for Savard and sent a 2021 fourth-rounder to Detroit. The Blue Jackets retained half of Savard’s $4.25 million salary-cap hit and the Red Wings got involved to pick up a quarter of it to help the cap-strapped Lightning.
Savard, a 30-year-old pending free agent, was one of the most sought-after players ahead of the NHL trade deadline Monday.
“David Savard is a consummate professional, and his contributions to our organization over the past 10 years have been significant,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He has been an incredibly selfless player on the ice, a great teammate in the dressing room and a great representative of the Blue Jackets off the ice. “
In his 10th season with the Blue Jackets, Savard was in the car with his family when he got the call from Kekalainen on Saturday to inform him of the trade. He knew he likely was going to be moved somewhere after being a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s game against, coincidentally, the Lightning.
“The last 48 hours have been kind of interesting,” Savard said. “It was kind of a weird situation to not be in not playing and battling with your teammates, but obviously the way it turned out, I’m really excited to join Tampa. They’ve had a great team for numbers of years, so I’m really excited to go on a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I couldn’t be more pumped to go meet the guys and join the team and be part of a run again.”
Savard gives the Lightning a dependable, shot-blocking right-shooting defender who is averaging just under 20 minutes a game this season. Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois had said recently it was very unlikely he’d be able to add before the trade deadline given his team’s salary cap situation.
It cost the Lightning to make that work. They also acquired minor league defenseman Brian Lashoff, who will continue to play for Detroit’s farm team in Grand Rapids after the trade.
The Lightning are grappling with Carolina and Florida for Central Division supremacy.
Savard was tied with forward Cam Atkinson for the longest-tenured player in the Blue Jackets organization. He has 166 points in 597 NHL regular-season games, all with Columbus.
“We’ve been through a lot of battles together, and I’m going to miss those guys a lot,” Savard said. “There’s friendships I’m going to have for the rest of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time here and a lot of sweat and tears we had in that locker room, so it’s hard to leave. But I think it’s that part of the business sometimes. It’s just the way it happened this year that makes it kind of weird to leave. I’m really excited to join Tampa.”
The trade is the first step in an expected revamp of a team that likely will miss the playoffs after four consecutive appearances under coach John Tortorella.
Captain Nick Foligno, who has played 599 career games with the Blue Jackets, could be the next player to be moved out as the team rebuilds. The 33-year-old Foligno is a 13-year NHL veteran who also will be an unrestricted free agent. Injured center Riley Nash was dealt to Toronto for a seventh-round pick in 2022.
“It’s the reality of the situation,” Foligno said Thursday when it appeared the Savard trade was imminent. “It sucks. You can lose some good friends. It’s the ramifications of a (losing) season like this one.”
Tortorella’s contract also is up after this season and neither he nor the team has commented on his future.
Whyno reported from Washington.
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