Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says the lure of adding another first-round pick was too much to resist.
Yzerman landed the Detroit Red Wings' first-round pick on Tuesday in a three-way deal that also involved the Colorado Avalanche. The Lightning sent forward Steve Downie to the Avs for defenseman Kyle Quincey, then wheeled Quincey to the Wings for their first-round pick in the NHL Draft this June and minor-league defenseman Sebastien Piche.
It's the third trade in less than a week for the Lightning, who sent center Dominic Moore to San Jose for a second-round pick last Thursday, then dealt 34-year-old defenseman Pavel Kubina to Philadelphia two days later for second- and third-round picks.
Yzerman said the deals have given the Lightning more options going forward, even as they try to scramble into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
"We look at our team and where we are today; the players that we moved in the last week for draft picks, the return on those players – is it worth doing? And obviously we felt that the return was worthwhile," he said. "Today, our options were, do we keep Steve Downie, keep Kyle Quincey or take the first-round draft pick and obviously we felt that we wanted the first round draft pick, so the decision was made.
"I think we have more options now, draft-related or potentially trade-related to acquire players. We have some flexibility. If there is a move that comes up and a team is looking to move a player, there are a lot of options for us. And at the draft, we can move up or move down, we can do a lot of different things, so we're excited about the future. Today, it may be one step backwards; we traded players for draft picks, but this puts us ahead in the long run."
With the trade deadline coming on Monday, Yzerman didn't rule out making more deals but said he had nothing imminent.
"We'll look at all our different options," he said. "Any potential opportunities now that come along that make sense, we'll use those picks to do that.
"I don't have anything else right now. We're willing to listen to anything but being as honest as I can be, I don't expect to be incredibly busy before Monday."
Yzerman said he's not writing off the current season -- the Lightning entered Tuesday just six points out of the last playoff berth in the East -- but Tuesday's trade and the two earlier deals were made with bigger objectives in mind.
"Obviously, I traded three players for draft picks and these moves are made to make us better in the future," he said. "Any situation that comes along from here to the trade deadline to the future, we will look at. These draft picks give us options; they don’t help today, no question, but again, my goal is to win a Stanley Cup here, and we have to do some tough things, some difficult things along the way to do that. We need young players. We need to draft well, we need to build that way and this was an opportunity to do that, to acquire some high picks, so that decision was made. The message to the player is that I want to win a Stanley Cup and I'll do what I have to do to win a Stanley Cup.
"Our team is a competitive group of guys, they are professional and (coach) Guy (Boucher) will push them hard to try to win every game -- again, I'm trading players, and popular players, for draft picks and these moves are made for the future. Again, my only message to the players is that I'll do what I need to do make us a Stanley Cup contender and these moves get us moving in that direction again."