MIkhail Sergachev trade grades: Utah makes first big splash, Lightning clear way for Steven Stamkos contract

The Utah Hockey Club isn’t wasting any time making a noise for itself. 

The NHL’s newest franchise made the first bold move of the offseason, landing star defenseman Mikhail Sergachev from the Lightning in a deal made on Day 2 of the 2024 NHL Draft. 

New team owner Ryan Smith hasn’t shied away from the fact that he wants this team to compete as soon as possible, and Utah GM Bill Armstrong went out and made a statement by acquiring the talent Russian, who was a key cog in the Lightning’s back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 2020 and 2021. 

For Tampa Bay, it clears the way for the team to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos, who was set to hit the open market come Monday. Between this trade, and the Tanner Jeannot trade to the Kings, the Lightning should have the funds necessary to give the 40-goal scorer the next contract he deserves. 

2024 NHL DRAFT: RESULTS | GRADES

Who won the deal? The Sporting News hands out grades to each team in the Sergachev trade. 

Mikhail Sergachev trade details

  • Utah receive: D Mikhail Sergachev
  • Lightning receive: D JJ Moser, C Conor Geekie, 2024 seventh-round pick, 2025 second-round pick

Mikhail Sergachev trade grades

Utah: A-

Utah isn’t messing around. The newest NHL franchise wants to contend as quickly as possible, and landing a stud like Sergachev to anchor the blue line is an excellent first step. 

The club quite literally have zero defensemen signed for next year, with three of their rostered blue liners set to be restricted free agents, including JJ Moser. The team has not had a bonafide No. 1 since the days of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and none of their young defensemen have taken the reins as that true leader. By bringing in Sergachev, Utah gets a 26-year-old who has shown everything it takes to be a horse on the back end, but has rightfully played second fiddle to Victor Hedman in Tampa Bay. 

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The trade undoubtedly accelerates the team’s rebuild. Sergachev’s large cap hit is not a problem at all for Utah to handle on the books. Losing young talent in Moser and Conor Geekie hurts, but the club gains a proven talent about to enter his prime. It didn’t cost a first-round pick either, making the deal all of the more worth it. 

Lightning: C+ 

Look, I get it — the Lightning had to do everything possible to keep Steven Stamkos. You don’t just let your longtime face of the franchise that has brought you two Stanley Cups walk after an 81-point season.

With that said, Tampa Bay is committing an awful lot to its aging core group. Sergachev was supposed to be a part of an influx of young talent that will allow the Lightning to lengthen out this age of contention. Instead, they ship him off in order to clear cap space for Stamkos. It’s also not a coincidence that the Lightning have made it known they want to re-sign Victor Hedman to an extension once eligible this summer, and will need money for that deal. 

Moser and Geekie are good gets, with the former flashing potential top-four talent, and the latter billing out to be a projected power forward down the middle. However, if Tampa Bay is truly viewing themselves still as contenders, losing Sergachev hurts an already fairly weak blue line on the Lightning. 

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