Lightning trade Johnson, pick to Blackhawks for Seabrook's contract

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The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Tyler Johnson and a 2023 second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Brent Seabrook's contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Seabrook ended his playing career in March due to a hip injury. His contract, which has three years remaining with an average annual value of $6.875 million, can be placed on the long-term injured reserve where it won't count against the salary cap. The Lightning will be able to accumulate about $1.8 million in additional cap space with Seabrook on the LTIR, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

There are three years left on Johnson's deal, which carries an annual cap hit of $5 million. The Lightning have been trying to move his contract for some time, as he cleared waivers prior to the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

The 30-year-old forward is coming off the worst season of his career after registering eight goals and 14 assists over 55 games. He added seven points in 23 playoff contests while playing primarily on the fourth line during Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup repeat.

However, Johnson was highly productive during his prime. From 2013-14 to 2018-19 he averaged 25 goals and 30 assists per 82 games.

Even though the Lightning were eager to get rid of Johnson, his departure creates a hole down the middle of the team's lineup since the Seattle Kraken selected fellow center Yanni Gourde in the expansion draft.

Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli are locks at center. Steven Stamkos is a natural center, though he's played almost exclusively on the wing over the last couple of seasons. Ross Colton, who played mostly as a winger throughout his rookie campaign, could be asked to shift back to the middle. Mitchell Stephens, Alex Barre-Boulet, and Gemel Smith are other internal options.

The Lightning project to hold about $5 million to $7 million in cap space. Colton and Cal Foote are the team's two most pressing restricted free agents.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, will likely count on Johnson to center their third line behind Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach. Dylan Strome is also still in the mix.

Chicago possesses less than $2.5 million in projected cap space and still needs to sign RFAs Alexander Nylander, Brandon Hagel, and Nikita Zadorov.

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Lightning trade Johnson, pick to Blackhawks for Seabrook's contract
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