TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning approached the NHL Trade Deadline looking for salary-cap flexibility for the future.
Over four days including the deadline Wednesday, the Lightning traded veteran goalie Ben Bishop and forwards Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula, and general manager Steve Yzerman can now focus on signing Tampa Bay's restricted free agents, including forwards Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat.
Filppula was traded Wednesday to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Mark Streit, who was then traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Lightning removed Filppula's $5 million salary cap charge for next season and don't have to protect him in the NHL Expansion Draft because of his no-move clause. Bishop, traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and Boyle, to the Toronto Maple Leafs, each can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"[Bishop, Boyle and Filppula] have been significant contributors to the success we've have over the last three seasons," Yzerman said. "I'm very appreciative of all their efforts."
Video: Erlendsson breaks down the Bishop trade
The Lightning now should be able to secure a group of forwards that includes captain Steven Stamkos, Drouin, Palat, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov. Ryan Callahan, who will miss the rest of the regular season with a hip injury, has a no-move clause.
"These particular moves had to be made at some point, and our record dictated that we had to make them now," Yzerman said. "If I do nothing, I probably lose a player off the roster that I prefer not to."
Tampa Bay (28-25-8) was five points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from in the Eastern Conference before playing the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Yzerman said the goal is to make the playoffs, but also to have continued success over a number of seasons, making sure the Lightning are in position to consistently compete for the Stanley Cup.
"We are better off cap-wise, but we have to continue to make good decisions to improve our team," Yzerman said. "The players are professionals, and their job is to show up and play well and to win. Our expectation is to win [Wednesday]. This is a tough part of the business."
The trades gave the Lightning short-term salary cap space, and they could have put Callahan on long-term injured reserve to create more if they wanted to become a buyer at the deadline, but Yzerman said that didn't make sense, even with Stamkos possibly returning from a knee injury before the end of the season.
"We could have done that, but for me the preference was to do things that would help us this year, next year and beyond," Yzerman said. "I had to make decisions based on our record; if our record was different I would have made different decisions."