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Lightning get value additions in Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba

TAMPA — The Lightning had fewer early round draft picks to trade at this season’s deadline, but general manager Julien BriseBois’ goal was the same: acquire young, prime-age players with years of team control or make value additions that would make the club better for a low cost.

BriseBois was able to do the latter.

His moves were a change from recent years, when he made splash additions and dealt first-round picks. The acquisitions of forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Matt Dumba didn’t create the buzz of, say, the Brandon Hagel deal two years ago, but it can be argued the Lightning are a better team than they were a few days ago.

“You’re also on the lookout for maybe not as transformational an acquisition but someone that moves your franchise ahead where you’re getting good value and you’re making your team better,” BriseBois said during Friday’s post-deadline media availability. “And I think at the end of the day, that’s what we ended up doing with these two transactions. We got two players that don’t mortgage our future, make us better right now, help us for this final push and hopefully for a nice long playoff run after that.”

The Lightning addressed their primary needs — depth scoring and defenseman help — with two veteran additions without losing any players off their current NHL roster. Whether it’s enough for the team to make another deep playoff run remains to be seen. For the first time in a long time, Tampa Bay is battling for its playoff life with just 18 games left in the regular season.

Both Dumba and Duclair are expected to make their Lightning debuts Saturday night against the Flyers.

“For us, the playoffs have started,” BriseBois said he told both players. “And you’re going to come in, and it’s going to be a playoff atmosphere and you’re going play a big game starting (Saturday) night. Both guys enjoy big games, usually step up in big games, and are looking forward to the challenge and they’re going to make us better as we are making this push to get into the playoffs.”

Both players can become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, but BriseBois said he hopes they’ll want to stay with the Lightning as center Nick Paul did. Paul, who arrived at the 2022 trade deadline as a pending UFA, signed a seven-year, $22.05 million deal in the offseason.

Duclair cost the team Jack Thompson, arguably the organization’s most promising offensive defenseman, and this year’s third-round pick, leaving the Lightning no selections over the first four rounds of the draft. For Dumba, Tampa Bay sent a 2027 fifth-round pick to Arizona and got back a seventh-rounder in 2025.

BriseBois was looking to improve the roster in any way, and the leg injury to Mikhail Sergachev (who BriseBois said won’t be back for the start of the playoffs) left an obvious hole on the left side of the defense.

The Lightning were linked to the top left-shot defenseman on the trade market, Calgary’s Noah Hanifin. Reports out of Canada said Tampa Bay was atop his wish list, and Hanifin hoped to sign an extension with the Lightning. On Wednesday, however, Hanifin was dealt to Vegas.

Asked whether a deal for Hanifin was ever close, BriseBois said it would be inappropriate to discuss a player not in the organization. But in the same breath, he added, “usually, good, young, prime-age players who play premium positions are very much in demand.”

In Duclair, 28, the Lightning get a player with “blazing speed,” in BriseBois’ words, who the Lightning know well from his three seasons with the Panthers. Duclair had 16 goals and 27 points in 56 games with San Jose this season. He had a strong postseason 2023 postseason, tallying four goals and 11 points in 20 games as the Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup final.

“He’s one of the fastest guys in the league, high-end skill, play-making ability, goal-scoring ability,” BriseBois said. “So he can push the D back, which opens up the ice for some of the other players to find soft ice and pockets to score goals or get quality scoring chances off of. … We’ve played him in the playoffs a few times, and he’s scored some big goals against us. So, happy to have him in our jersey going forward.”

Dumba, 29, isn’t the offensive player he was earlier in his 11-year career (he averaged 12 goals and 33 points from 2015-19), but he will add “competitiveness” and “tenacity” to the blue line, BriseBois said.

“He’s a guy who goes up against the other team’s best players and makes it unpleasant for them, enjoys competing against the good players and stars in our league and physically taking it to them,” BriseBois said. “We can’t replace Sergachev, but now we have someone who is used to playing some of those big minutes himself to come into the lineup and help us. And the beauty with both players is the acquisition cost made sense for us.”

Both players can play big minutes. Duclair is averaging a career-high 16:10, Dumba 20:04.

The Lightning on Wednesday acquired a fourth-round pick in 2025 from Edmonton as the third team in a deal that sent Anaheim center Adam Henrique to the Oilers. Tampa Bay retained 25% of Henrique’s remaining contract, which ends this season.

Also Friday, the Lightning sent defensemen Emil Lilleberg and Max Crozier to AHL Syracuse. One or both could return — they had to be on Syracuse’s roster Friday to be eligible for the AHL playoffs — though Crozier would seem more likely to remain at Syracuse with Dumba giving the Lightning four right-shot defensemen.

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