An hour after acquiring defenseman Mike Commodore in a trade with the Red Wings, the Tampa Bay Lightning have struck again. Not content with his blue line depth, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman went back to the trade market to acquire another blue liner:
TOR receives Carter Ashton from TB for Keith Aulie.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 27, 2012
Carter Ashton was ranked by the site Bolt Prospects as the No. 1 prospect in the Lightning organization, and he was dominating down in the AHL this season. Ashton had scored 19 goals (and racked up 35 points) in 56 games, while scoring on an impressive 15% of his shots. He is a large, young forward, and his future certainly seems bright:
Carter in still a work in progress, but the foundation is there for him to develop into an NHL power forward who will have a long and successful career. He may need one season in the AHL with Norfolk before that happens. His father, Brent, was a solid 25 goal, 50-55 point a year man in the NHL and the apple doesn’t appear to fall that far from the tree. Carter projects to be a solid second line winger who will do the dirty work for his linemates and bang home 20-30 goals a season like NHLers Ryan Malone or Dustin Penner. (Bolt Prospects)
Steve Yzerman had stated going into today that he did not want to give up any top prospects, so considering the fact that he just traded the top prize in his farm system, he must think the world of Keith Aulie. Aulie is a large (6’5", 217 lbs.), defense-first defender, and he was widely considered the top defensive prospect in Toronto’s system. He has played in 17 games with the Maple Leafs so far this season, so although he’s only 22 years old, he could slot in and help the Bolts immediately on defense.
Aulie will likely be a work in progress and need some help to refine his game, but his youth and upside are attractive. If he can turn into a top four defender in the NHL, the Lightning will have a young duo of defenders to build around in Aulie and Victor Hedman. Considering the Bolts have a large amount of offensive depth, it makes sense to deal Ashton for a defensive prospect with promise.
This trade might be difficult to swallow at first for Bolts fans, and it’s certainly an aggressive, risky move by Yzerman. The process behind it is solid, though, so Lightning fans will have to hope Aulie can develop into a long-term fix.
For more on this move, check out SB Nation’s blog on the Lightning, Raw Charge.