Whether the Tampa Bay Lightning can make its way back into the playoff picture by the March 1 trade deadline is a different story and one that likely won't affect the club's pursuit of a top-tier defenseman.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has been trying to acquire a top-rated defenseman for well over a year, but has come up empty.
Yzerman has spoken to the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk and the Anaheim Ducks about some of their young blueliners, like Sami Vataanen and Cam Fowler in the past.
The Lightning and Blues came close to a deal that reportedly involved Shattenkirk and Bolts goalie Ben Bishop last season, but that trade fell through.
On Tuesday night, during TSN's "Insider Trading" segment, Pierre LeBrun reported the Bolts could once again go after Shattenkirk or one of Anaheim's blueliners, if any became available.
Tampa's mindset in acquiring a top rearguard is with the future in mind, which would keep them out of the running for any rental players. Shattenkirk is in the final year of his contract, however, but if the Lightning was to land him, they'd have to feel very strongly about signing him to an extension.