Lightning add to blue line, snag veteran Savard

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the teams announced on Saturday.

Tampa Bay sent Columbus a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 third-round choice. As part of the deal, Columbus is retaining 50% of Savard’s contract, which carries a $4.25 million cap hit and expires after this season. The Detroit Red Wings served as a broker in the trade, acquiring a fourth-round pick from the Lightning. The Red Wings traded minor league defenseman Brian Lashoff to Tampa Bay. Lashoff will play in the AHL, the Lightning said.

Savard, 30, is a prototypical pickup for a contending team; he has 38 games of playoff experience, and averaged 25:42 a night in 10 games during the 2020 postseason bubble. The right-handed defenseman is big (6-foot-2, 229 pounds) and plays a physical game; he has 89 blocked shots in just 40 games this season.

Savard has spent his entire 10-year career with Columbus. But the Blue Jackets have fallen out of contention, which made Savard expendable at the deadline. Columbus has gone 15-19-8 through 42 games; only the Red Wings have fewer points in the Central Division.

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“David Savard is a consummate professional and his contributions to our organization over the past 10 years have been significant,” Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “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. We wish he, Valerie, and their family all the best moving forward.”

The Blue Jackets have overachieved the past few seasons, making the playoffs despite losing big names to free agency.

This year, however, has been frustrating. Pierre-Luc Dubois clashed with coach John Tortorella and was traded for Patrik Laine, but that hasn’t gone smoothly, either.

It’s the second-straight year the Lightning have been aggressive at the trade deadline. Last year’s pickups — forwards Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, who each had a year remaining on their contract — were key contributors in Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup run.

GM Julien BriseBrois cautioned reporters several times this season that his team would have a hard time achieving anything at the trade deadline, given they had no cap space to work with. Star winger Nikita Kucherov is on long-term injured reserve all season, and is expected to return for the playoffs.

However, the Lightning made the deal work because Columbus was willing to absorb some of Savard’s cap hit. Tampa Bay is also expected to move defenseman Jan Ruutta to long-term injury reserve.