The Tampa Bay Lightning were also among the busier of the teams over the weekend, especially on Saturday, where they signed eight players to deals, including one pool worthy forward in Chris Kunitz, a fringe defenseman in Dan Girardi and then a number of depth signings, including two entry-level deals for prospects. A busy day, indeed!
Kunitz just barely finished within the standards of being pool worthy as a forward, finishing 202nd in scoring among forwards, tied in points with 200th overall, picking up 9 goals and 29 points in 71 games for the Penguins last season. He signed a 1-year, $2 million deal, which has performance bonuses that could take it up to $3 million, if hit. The 37-year old still has shown some flashes of his former glory and he could provide some excellent leadership to this Lightning team, which is still fairly young at its core.
The addition of Girardi is a solid one to this blueline, as he is a shut down defender with a little bit of offensive upside to his game. Last year, the 33-year old finished with 4 goals and 15 points, 115th among all defensemen in scoring, so not very far away from being in the top 100. The move to Tampa could be very beneficial for his numbers, as they are a good transition team, a big plus for a defenseman.
|Steven Stamkos||8.500||Victor Hedman||7.875||Andrei Vasilevskiy||3.500|
|Ryan Callahan||5.800||Anton Stralman||4.500||Peter Budaj||1.025|
|Nikita Kucherov||4.767||Braydon Coburn||3.700|
|Alex Killorn||4.450||Dan Girardi||3.000|
|Chris Kunitz||2.000||Andrej Sustr||1.950|
|Vladislav Namestnikov||1.938||Mikhail Sergachev||0.894|
|J.T. Brown||1.250||Mathieu Joseph||0.743|
The Lightning addressed a couple of key concerns in the early parts of free agency, so now they can turn their attention to their restricted free agents: Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. I am currently showing this current 23-man projected roster coming in at $11.1 million below the salary cap ceiling, which means the Lightning have lots to play with for those two. If they can sneak in below that number, they would be in great shape for the coming season.
If Mikhail Sergachev pans out on the back end, as soon as this season, then the addition of Dan Girardi, as a stay-at-home defender will be a huge win for this team and immediately, their blueline becomes one of the best corps in the league. The Lightning have done well to add some insurance in Peter Budaj already in net and once they finish off the RFA signings, I think we can talk big things in the Atlantic Division for this side.