Report: One NHL team drops out of Karlsson trade race

And just like that, the landscape TOTALLY changes.

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Yesterday’s news that Steve Yzerman is stepping down from his position as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning lit off a firestorm of speculation and questions from the hockey world. Will he be returning back home to the Detroit Red Wings? What does this mean for the Lightning in Erik Karlsson trade talks?

First off, Yzerman isn’t going anywhere. At least, not for another year. The 53 year old Hall of Famer has one year left on his contract with the Lightning and he fully intends on riding it out and working for the organization as a senior advisor, this according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

It’s believed Yzerman will fulfill the balance of his contract as a senior advisor in TB.

As for Karlsson, well it’s probably pretty safe to say that Yzerman’s right hand man and new GM of the Lightning Julien BriseBois is on board with Yzerman’s plan. The mandate in Tampa Bay has always been to draft, develop, sign and trade for the best, most skilled players possible and Karlsson certainly fits the bill. It’s hard to imagine the Lightning dropping out of the race for Karlsson simply because of Yzerman’s departure. However, because of a relatively minor transaction made yesterday by the New York Rangers, the Lightning may be out of luck.

In his latest article for The Athletic, Rangers insider Rick Carpinello explains how the team’s acquisition of former Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid complicates things for the Lightning as it pertains to Karlsson. You see, all along it was believed that the Lightning would have to swing a three-way deal with the Ottawa Senators in order to land Karlsson, as they’d need to dump veteran Ryan Callahan and his $5.85 million salary. The Rangers were rumored to be involved in the negotiations, but yesterday’s acquisition of McQuaid has more or less squashed that as a possibility. 

More from Carpinello:

McQuaid carries a cap hit of $2.75 million for this season, which leaves the Rangers approximately $3.576 million in cap space…
The Rangers would have to make another transaction in order to take on a big salary dump such as Ryan Callahan’s $5.8 million if Tampa Bay renews its efforts to trade for Erik Karlsson, for example.

In other words… figure it out on your own, Tampa. Of course, the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks all remain hotly in pursuit of Karlsson but don’t be surprised if Brisebois figures out a way to muscle his way back into negotiations. Stay tuned, Senators training camp opens Friday. The countdown is on.