TORONTO - NOVEMBER 18: Keith Aulie #59 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Brian Rolston #12 of the New Jersey Devils during game action at the Air Canada Centre November 18 2010 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Ashton, selected late in the 1st by former GM Brian Lawton, has been playing his first full professional season this year with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, where he has helped the Ads this season with 35 points in 56 games.
Keith Aulie, a right handed defenseman, is massive (6'6", 215) and not afraid to throw down. He's also considered more of a stay-at-home defenseman.
It's disappointing to lose an offensive talent like Ashton, but the Bolts had abandoned something this past season on defense - mostly out of necessity due to injuries and departures. That being pairing mobile defenders with more solid, stay-at-home players. With the loss of Mike Lundin in the 2011 NHL off season, and Mattias Ohlund being lost due to injury, the Bolts were low on big bodies and big hitters.
To be frank, this move really caught me off guard. GM Steve Yzerman has been adamant about not trading prospects or the future. This is quite a departure.
Aulie will report to Tampa Bay immediately.