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Miller trade nets Bolts draft picks and salary cap breathing room

Tampa Bay picked up a conditional first-round pick, a 2019 third-round pick and goaltender Marek Mazanec in exchange for J.T. Miller

by Bryan Burns /

Before the Tampa Bay Lightning made a selection Saturday during day two of the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, they made headlines by trading forward J.T. Miller to Vancouver in a move with salary cap ramifications.

In return for shipping Miller to the Canucks, Tampa Bay received Vancouver's 2019 third round pick, which they used to select Swedish goaltender Hugo Alnefelt, a 2020 first round pick that becomes a 2021 first round pick if the Canucks fail to make the playoffs this season, and goaltender Marek Mazanec, who provides organizational depth after Syracuse Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale signed with a KHL team in the offseason and Connor Ingram was dealt to Nashville for a 2021 seventh round pick.

More importantly, the Lightning retained no salary in the deal, clearing up necessary cap space to sign all of their restricted free agents, which include Brayden Point, Adam Erne, Cedric Paquette and Danick Martel.

Video: BriseBois on the J.T. Miller Trade

"It's a big-picture trade," Julien BriseBois said at the conclusion of his first NHL draft as Lightning general manager. "Eventually we had to move some money out, and unfortunately, J.T.'s the one guy who didn't have the no-trade clause. He was the easiest one to move."

BriseBois said moving Miller along with a "worst-case" scenario of placing Ryan Callahan on long-term injury exemption gives the Lightning a little breathing room in terms of the salary cap, the upper limit announced at $81.5 million following the draft. The moves should allow them to get a deal completed for their biggest priority Point, whom BriseBois said he isn't concerned he'll be able to sign to a new contract, but it remains early in the process.

"I said from the get-go I expect Brayden to sign with us, and I still think that's the case," BriseBois said.

With the first of their two third-round picks thanks to the haul from the Canucks, the Lightning took Alnefelt to further address that organizational goalie depth.

"I don't think it could have gotten any better," Alnefelt said upon being drafted by the Bolts. "I've heard just a lot of great things about Tampa. I'm just super thrilled and happy."

Alnefelt was the second-ranked European goalie by NHL Central Scouting entering the 2019 draft.

"I would say that I'm a pretty calm goalie who doesn't want to make any bigger movements than I have to," Alnefelt said. "But I'm still pretty explosive. I like to stay on my feet pretty much."

With their original third-round selection, the Lightning chose Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic from Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18 year old scored 22 goals and recorded 46 points in 60 games to lead the Sea Dogs in goals, assists (24) and scoring in 2018-19. The Bratislava native also ranked third among all QMJHL rookies for goals and fifth for points.

In the fourth round, the Lightning added to their blueline prospect pool by taking Canadian defenseman Maxwell Crozier out of Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League with pick No. 120.

Crozier led all Stampede defensemen for goals (10), assists (33), points (43), game-winning goals (2), power-play goals (6), shots (118) and penalty minutes (132). Crozier ranked tied for first among all Sioux Falls skaters for assists and tied for sixth for scoring.

In helping Sioux Falls to a Clark Cup championship in the USHL, Crozier paced the Stampede for playoff assists and tied for the team playoff scoring lead with four goals, seven assists and 11 points in 12 games. He's committed to play at Providence College next season.

The Bolts were without a selection in the fifth round, but in the sixth (182nd overall), they took another defenseman, Quinn Schmiemann from Kamloops of the Western Hockey League. The 17-year-old Schmiemann skated in 58 games with the Blazers in 2018-19, recording five goals and 28 points to rank second among all WHL rookie defensemen for scoring. A native of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, Schmiemann played in six WHL playoff games last season, posting a pair of assists.

Video: Hugo Alnefelt | 71st Overall Pick

With their two selections in the seventh and final round of the draft, the Lightning took 19-year-old Russian winger Mikhail Shalagin at 198 overall and 18-year-old forward McKade Webster of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers at 213 to close out the day.

Shalagin is a prolific goal scorer, netting 48 goals in 43 games for Spartak 2 to lead the MHL for goals and earn the league's MVP award.

Webster missed much of the 2018-19 season with an injury, but in his rookie season in Green Bay in 2017-18, he posted 11 goals and 30 assists.

Webster is committed to play at the University of Denver next season.

Combined with their day one selection of Nolan Foote, brother of 2017 first-round pick Cal Foote, at No. 27 on Friday, the Lightning selected four forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender with their seven selections at the 2019 Draft. And with their selections by the Bolts just two years apart, Nolan and Cal Foote became the fourth set of brothers to be chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft by the same franchise, joining Dave and Mark Hunter (Montreal), Henrik and Daniel Sedin (Vancouver) and Duane and Brent Sutter (New York Islanders).

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