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2012 NHL Trade Deadline: Tampa Bay Lightning Get Defensive on Deadline Day

The Lightning made the biggest noise at the NHL Trade deadline, acquiring three defensemen while dealing away a top prospect and a rental defenseman.

Well, no one can say the Lightning weren't active.

Despite being seemingly out of the playoff race, the Tampa Bay Lightning were among the most active teams during today's trading deadline, acquiring three defensemen, all which should be able to contribute immediately (if one can get his work visa in order).

It was fast and furious for GM Steve Yzerman, who began remaking the team a few weeks ago.

The fallout from the past couple of weeks:

Out are Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina, Steve Downie, Matt Gilroy and top prospect Carter Ashton.

In are veteran defenseman Mike Commodore, plus young NHL blue liners Keith Aullie and former 2005 9th overall draft choice Brian Lee.

He also added depth to the farm system with forward Jon Kalinski and defenseman Sebastien Piche.

Finally, Yzerman stockpiled a 2012 First round pick and two 2012 second round picks.

The biggest surprise today was perhaps Commodore, who didn't really fit the mold of a team expecting to accept their role as a non-playoff team and beginning to retool. Commodore will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and is 32 years of age. It's perhaps the biggest sign that we may not see Victor Hedman again this season. Commodore was acquired for a 7th round draft pick in this year's draft.

The Lightning dealt 2009 first round pick Ashton for Keith Aulie, a hulking, physical stay-at-home defenseman. At 6'6", 215 lbs, he could be an important piece to something the Lightning were sorely lacking - toughness. It was an interesting move by Yzerman, who said he wouldn't be willing to move prospects and Ashton was certainly a player on the cusp of joining the big club. Aulie is just 22 years of age, so the youth quotient of this deal evens out. The Lightning are surrendering some future scoring for a guy who can hopefully help prevent it in the Bolts' zone.

Yzerman wrapped up the day by trading Matt Gilroy for the 1st round bust Brian Lee. Ottawa has been waiting a long time to see Lee live up to his 9th overall selection, but he just hasn't gotten the job done. Lee has yet to play more than 53 games in a season at the NHL level, bouncing up and down from Ottawa's farm team, Binghamton, the past few years before finally finding a role in Ottawa as their 7th defenseman.

"At times Brian thought he should have been (in the top six)," Ottawa GM Bryan Murray said, "Our coaching staff, over the course of time, just felt that he was one of those people who was in and out of the lineup because of maybe not giving the offensive contribution that some other person could give. I think Brian is taking some time to develop his body and develop his game, and I hope for his sake he gets a chance now to be a regular player."

With Matt Gilroy poised to be an unrestricted free agent, Yzerman saw an opportunity to make the team better.

"Brian Lee has some NHL experience and we think he has a chance to be a good player," Yzerman said. "We still hadn't decided one way or another on resigning Matt Gilroy, so when this offer came in we thought about it and were intrigued by Brian Lee. They are both good skaters but Gilroy will go up the ice with the puck. He's going to make plays with it. We think of Brian Lee as more defensive-minded and better in the defensive end. He's also a restricted free agent against Gilroy, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season."

Yzerman had an eye to the present and future at the trade deadline. Few could argue that he hasn't positioned the Lightning to have all sorts of flexibility for future deals and the upcoming NHL draft.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.