The Tampa Bay Lightning trade deadline will be interesting to watch this season. Over the last several seasons, they’ve been active with deals. It started with Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. More recently, it has been Tanner Jeannot and Michael Eyssimont. This season, there is a question of what the Lightning should do; buy or sell? Here at Last Word, Kyle Pereira and Jack Pallotta will start a series where they look at some potential trades. Let’s say they buy, who do they get? What do they give up? Today, we look at Alexandre Carrier of the Nashville Predators. He may be an option for the Lightning to add on the blue line.

Disclaimer: The players featured in these articles aren’t always linked to the Lightning but have been made available in some capacity this season. These pieces are observing whether Tampa Bay should target them and what the cost would be if they did.

Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Deadline: Alexandre Carrier

From top to bottom, the Predators’ organization has experienced many changes over the past eight months. First, David Poile stepped down as General Manager, with Barry Trotz filling the vacant role. Furthermore, Nashville hired Andrew Brunette as their new Head Coach. The Predators bought out Matt Duchene‘s contract and traded Ryan Johansen to the Colorado Avalanche. Finally, the franchise signed Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist as free agents over the summer.

In short, expectations for the Predators were all over the place heading into the 2023-24 season. Will they make the playoffs? Do they sell at the trade deadline? The Predators sit tied for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. With their current position, a few defencemen on the roster have floated around as potential trade targets for contenders at the trade deadline. One name, Alexandre Carrier, is a potential fit for Julien BriseBois and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Carrier Scouting Report

With 190 career NHL games under his belt at 27 years old, Carrier is an intriguing option for multiple teams at the top of the standings. In 46 games this season, the right-handed defender has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. He is on pace for 29 points in 74 games, which comes close to a career-best 30 points in 77 games during the 2021-22 season. He put his career back on track in a contract year after recording just nine points in 43 games last season.

Carrier is a defenceman who uses his mobility to cover for his lack of size. At 5’11” and 174 pounds, Carrier is one of the smaller defenders in the league. He provides a layer of secondary offence while playing sound on both ends of the ice. His quick anticipation allows him to be effective in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill. Moreover, Carrier brings a shoot-first mentality to the blueline in the offensive zone with his wicked shot from the point. Now, let’s dive deeper into what else Carrier brings to the table.

Carrier’s Strengths

With his rifle from the point, Carrier produces his offence via shots off the cycle and forecheck, similar to the Lightning. Hand-tracked microstats at All Three Zones provide further evidence for this claim. Carrier ranks in the 53rd percentile of cycle and forecheck offence per hour amongst defencemen this season. Additionally, his shots create angle changes to fool goaltenders. Carrier places in the 99th percentile of deflection assists per 60. He is superbly intelligent with his shot placement. Carrier’s forwards get in position to screen the goaltender, and he places pucks where they can redirect his shots.

The fit of Carrier in the offensive zone cycle for the Lightning makes him an intriguing option for BriseBois and company. Tampa Bay abuses their defencemen in the offensive zone with passes to the point. Our microstats tracking workbook touches on this further for another layer of context. Tampa Bay controls 58.23% of the passes to the point at 5v5 in three recently tracked games (58.23 PTP%). The Lightning need to take more shots on the net and stop looking for the perfect play all the time. There is no better way to fix this than calling Trotz about Carrier’s price tag at the trade deadline. However, what are the potential risks of acquiring Carrier?

The Concerns For Carrier

Acquiring a 27-year-old, right-handed defencemen sounds like a brilliant idea for any front office in the NHL. On top of this, Carrier comes in at a flexible cap hit of $2.5 million. The issue is that the $2.5 million AAV expires after this season. Carrier will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his desired destination is undetermined. If BriseBois were to swing at Carrier, would he remain with the Lightning long-term? The Lightning are already down first-round picks in 2024 and 2025, and the prospect pipeline is exceptionally thin. Carrier may not be enough to push the Lightning over the edge, especially as a pure rental, which BriseBois has claimed he is not interested in. With that said, what would the framework for a Carrier trade look like if the Lightning were to buy at the deadline?

What It Would (Likely) Take To Acquire Carrier

With Mikhail Sergachev sidelined for the season, the Lightning are down a vital defender. A few trades in recent years offer a potential offer Tampa Bay can propose for Carrier. First, Sean Durzi joined the Arizona Coyotes over the summer in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick. Despite Durzi being slightly more productive offensively and a few years younger, this price tag seems reasonable for a player like Carrier at the trade deadline, where the prices for acquiring players inflate. The second comparable trade is when Brett Kulak got traded to the Edmonton Oilers for William Laggeson, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2024 seventh-round pick. Kulak had similar production and age compared to Carrier at the time of the trade. Below is a hypothetical trade offer for Carrier.

Tampa Bay acquires: Alexandre Carrier (D)

Nashville acquires: Alex Barré-Boulet (F), 2025 second-round pick

How Both Sides Benefit From the Trade

The Lightning are down a top defenceman for the rest of the season following Sergachev’s leg injury. With the Russian defender likely heading to LTIR, the Lightning now have $8.5 million in cap space. From Tampa Bay’s perspective, Carrier adds stability to the roster for the rest of the season. His solid two-way game can fit alongside Victor Hedman on the top pairing. From Nashville’s perspective, they add a project to the roster in Barré-Boulet, who will get more opportunity and ice time. In addition, they add draft capital for a player they might lose to free agency. The team is not in a position to compete for the playoffs and can re-cooperate assets for the future. The Lightning find a replacement for Sergachev while the Predators trade an expiring asset for draft capital.

Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Deadline: In Or Out On Walker

Carrier is a fantastic trade target for the Lightning at the deadline. He can attack on the rush, get involved in the cycle, and defend the rush very well. While pulling the trigger on a 27-year-old is enticing, is the trade beneficial for the Lightning long-term? After all, the Lightning have the right side loaded with Erik Cernak, Nick Perbix, and Darren Raddysh. All three defenders are under contract heading into next season. Adding Carrier will create a log jam on the right side. 

Moreover, is Carrier enough to push the needle for the Lightning this season? Based on the first 52 games, can this squad win a playoff series? With the trade deadline a few weeks away, only time will tell. If the Lightning continue to lose games as the deadline approaches, they may need to load off some assets. While Carrier has a cheaper price tag versus Sean Walker, the Lightning are still better off adding a middle-six forward before defencemen this season.

Advanced percentiles via AllThreeZones (paid subscription required)

Raw stats via NaturalStatTrick & EvolvingHockey

Lightning tracked stats via Last Word (Kyle Pereira and Jack Pallotta)

Main Photo: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.