NHL Trade Deadline: Toronto and Tampa Swap Promising Prospects

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Keith Aulie is heading to Tampa.
Keith Aulie is heading to Tampa.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning completed the closest thing to a blockbuster deal that has happened so far on deadline day.

The Lightning sent 20-year-old forward Carter Ashton to Toronto in exchange for 22 year-old defenseman Keith Aulie. Though neither player has had much impact in the league so far, both are projected to be excellent NHL players.

The Leafs were able to move Aulie, a 6'6 225 pound monster of a defenseman in part because they have so much depth at the position already on the roster. His growth was being stagnated in Toronto thanks to just 16 minutes of ice time per game.

In return they get Ashton; a dangerous young forward with excellent pedigree who many scouts predict will be a top six player in the next few years.

Ashton is the son of former NHLer Brent, who played for nine teams over the course of his 14 year career registering 629 points in 998 games. He also holds the record (along with Mike Sillinger) as the most traded player in NHL history.

For Toronto this move is very much in keeping with what General Manager Brian Burke has been saying all year long, he is not willing to move his youth to get rental players in their 30s, he is trying to build for the long term and Ashton will certainly help.

In Tampa new General Manager Steve Yzerman's plan seems to be to rebuild his defense. He added veteran blueliner Mike Commodore earlier in the day and now the Aulie move. He also shipped former Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy out for more defensively minded defenseman Brian Lee from Ottawa.

Lightning fans have to be salivating at the thought of Victor Hedman and Aulie together on a pairing as each are 6'6 and over 220 pounds. If it comes to fruition, that pairing could be reminiscent of Aulie's pairing for team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships where he and Buffalo's Tyler Myers were dubbed the twin towers, by media and fans.

In the end, this could be one of the few trades from deadline day 2012 that is a win-win for both squads.

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