One of the things that haunted the Syracuse Crunch last season was a terrible power play. Without a defenseman to quarterback the unit, Syracuse just kind of hobbled through while on the man advantage. It was so bad that the Crunch ended up leading the league in short-handed goals against.
Thankfully for the Crunch, an old friend has returned to the fold that just might help that situation. News has broken that the Lightning has signed defenseman Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract.
LIGHTNING SIGN FREE AGENT DEFENSEMAN MATT TAORMINA
TAMPA BAY -The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. It is his second stint with the Lightning.
Taormina, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, played 76 games with the Worchester Sharks of the American Hockey League last season, notching 11 goals and 38 points. He led all Sharks defensemen for goals and points. Taormina's 11 goals were also a career high in the AHL. He has played in 308 career AHL games with Worchester, Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Senators, Lowell Devils and Albany River Rats. He has registered 42 goals and 159 points.
This is the 28-year-old's second stint with the Lightning after signing with Tampa Bay on July 6, 2012. He went on to play nine games for the Bolts and 96 with the Crunch over the course of two seasons. Taormina was later traded to Columbus with Dana Tyrell on March 5, 2014 in exchange for Jonathan Marchessault and Dalton Smith. In all, Taormina has played in 56 career NHL games with the Lightning and New Jersey Devils, recording four goals and 12 points.
A native of Warren, Michigan, Taormina played in 141 games at Providence College where he did not miss a game prior to turning professional. During his college career he recorded 20 goals and 65 points. Taormina was named to the 2007-08 Hockey East Second All-Star Team and received an honorable mention in 2008-09.
Taormina was undrafted and originally signed as a free agent by New Jersey on February 25, 2010.
Taormina was ranked in the top 50 in a list of the best AHL free agents out there this off season. The list was put together by a group of AHL bloggers who took a deep look at the league and those players who were projected to spend the majority of their time in it. Taormina clocked in at 46, mostly thanks to his work on Worcester's power play.
During the 2012-2013 season, Taomina was a large part of the leadership core that guided the Crunch to the Calder Cup final. With JP Cote not returning to the organization, Taomina is a great pick up by the Lightning. He's a player who already knows the system and has played under both Crunch head coach Rob Zettler and Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (when Cooper was coaching in Syracuse). He'll be an easy lock for leader in the dressing room and on the ice.