Sure, there was probably some other stuff that happened in the hockey world, but yesterday was all about the free agents.
It was Steve Yzerman’s busiest July 1st in several years as he inked a couple of veteran players to short-term deals with the Lightning. Not only did he “improve” the NHL team a bit, there was a drastic restructuring of Syracuse as well. A look at all of the deals that affected the Lightning (and some of the bigger NHL deals as well).
Your New Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumors of this deal had started circulating a few days ago and was not met with much enthusiasm. Despite, @loserpoints passionate plea, Mr Yzerman went ahead and signed veteran defenseman Dan Girardi. [Tampa Bay Lightning]
@iActium took the time to offer his look of the signing [Raw Charge]
As the mayhem of the day drew to a close, the team announced another free agent signing. This one bolsters their forward depth and comes with a pretty impressive Stanley Cup pedigree (his name is on the Cup four times). Chris Kunitz has brought his talents to Tampa on a one-year $2 million contract [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Our beloved editor-in-chief took time from her Canadian vacation to chat with Pensburgh’s David Straub about the now-former Penguin [Raw Charge]
Steve Yzerman’s comments on the moves:
Lightning Players That Signed Elsewhere
The Lightning didn’t have many unrestricted free agents to lose, but here are a couple of guys that wore the white and blue this season.
Luke Witkowski is taking his prodigious beard and gritty play back home to Detroit (he’s from Holland, Michigan) as he signed with the Red Wings for two seasons and a total value of $1.5 million [MLive]
He only played four games for the Lightning last season, but Byron Froese can now be considered an ExBolt as he signs a two-year deal with the Canadiens. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]
The Syracuse Shuffle
The biggest changes for the organization came at the AHL level where several familiar faces will find themselves playing for different organizations and Crunch fans will be checking their programs to figure out who the heck the new guys are.
Trade Alert! Early in the day the organization finally cut ties with Kristers Gudlevskis as they traded him to the New York Islanders for forward Carter Verhaeghe. [Lighthouse Hockey]
Skittles wasn’t the only Crunch goaltender to bid adieu to Upstate New York. Mike McKenna signed with the Dallas Stars. We’ll miss his play and his awesome sense of humor (for context - the original Tweet from the Stars had a picture off Gudlevskis included)
Really excited! Also want to announce that I've switched my catching hand to left and changed my citizenship to Latvian https://t.co/svcaaehC4r— Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56) July 1, 2017
With the the loss of both goalies the Crunch needed a veteran presence to work with precocious youngster Connor Ingram. That sage veteran will be former Blackhawk, former Predator, former Flyer, former Hurricane, former Flyer (again), former Blackhawk (again) and former Hurricane (again) Michael Leighton. [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Another big name departed from the blue line as Matt Taormina turned his 60-point season into a two-year, two-way contract with the Canadiens [nhl.com]
They rounded out the day with three more depth signings as they inked defensemen Mat Bodie and Jamie McBain along with forward Alex Gallant to one-year, two-way deals. [Syracuse.com and Tampa Bay Lightning]
Signings Around the NHL
For all of the deals that went down today visit SBNation’s Free Agent Signings page [SBNation]
Kevin Shattenkirk will be a Ranger for the next four years and it only cost them $26.6 million [Blueshirt Banter]
Karl Alzner will join Taormina in Montreal as the former Capital signed for five years at an annual average of $4.625 million [Japers’ Rink]
Nate “Boucher” is back. Former Lightning center and master of the 1-3-1 Nate Thompson is reunited with Guy Boucher in Ottawa as he signs a two-year deal with the Senators [NHL.com]
Speaking of former Lightning centers, Brian Boyle is a Devil. [Bob McKenzie]
The Anaheim Ducks signed goaltender Ryan Miller and chirped Vancouver fans:
Other Lightning News:
While the veterans were putting pen to paper, the kids wrapped up their development camp with a 3-on-3 tournament. Brett Howden led Team Esposito to victory with nine points while shiny new defenseman Mikhail Sergachev led all goal scorers with six [Tampa Bay Lightning]