Tampa Bay Lightning maneuver around salary-cap roadblock, add Nick Paul from Ottawa Senators

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning made another trade on the eve of the deadline aimed at becoming the NHL's first team to win three titles in a row since the 1980s.

The Lightning acquired forward Nick Paul from the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night for Mathieu Joseph and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The cap-strapped Lightning upgraded again up front thanks to Ottawa retaining 44.5% of Paul's salary for the remainder of the season.

Tampa Bay got Paul two days after acquiring forward Brandon Hagel from Chicago for multiple first-round picks and players and in the aftermath of major movement around the Eastern Conference. Earlier Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs shored up their defense by dealing for Seattle captain Mark Giordano.

Traded on his 27th birthday, Paul brings more size to the Lightning at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds. He has 11 goals and eight assists this season with Ottawa. Paul's camp had spoken with Senators management throughout the process, as the veteran was interested in a long-term deal with the team, and Ottawa has plenty of salary-cap space. After discussion, though, it was clear the Senators wanted to go in a different direction with their money, and opened up the phone lines to offers.

The Lightning are no strangers to last-minute deals for depth forwards in the quest for titles. Two seasons ago, they acquired Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils and Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks. Both players contributed to the two championships before signing lucrative deals last summer with the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers, respectively.

Making the late move for Paul was the Lightning's latest salvo in what became an arms race in the Atlantic Division. The rival Florida Panthers added blue-line depth by getting Robert Hagg from Buffalo after already adding top-six forward Claude Giroux and top-four defenseman Ben Chiarot.

The Maple Leafs sent second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a third-rounder in 2024 to Seattle for Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell in the hopes of winning their first playoff series since 2004. Giordano, a 38-year-old from Toronto, brings additional leadership to a core that has had nothing but postseason failures so far.

They also acquired a third-rounder in the draft this summer from Vancouver for defenseman Travis Dermott. The Canucks made room for Dermott by sending Travis Hamonic to Ottawa for a different 2022 third-round selection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.