The Tampa Bay Lightning have made a depth move today to acquire defenseman Fredrik Claesson from the San Jose Sharks. In exchange, the Lightning gave up the rights to NCAA goaltending prospect Magnus Chrona.
Claesson was originally a 5th round pick in 2011 by the Ottawa Senators out of Djurgardens IF in Sweden. Claesson is a left-handed defenseman that measures up at 6’0” and 201 pounds. He is 28-years-old and is signed to a two-way contract for the league minimum of $700,000. He is currently on the Sharks Taxi Squad and presumably will be added to the Lightning’s taxi squad.
Claesson has seven goals and 28 points in 159 career NHL games. He also has three assists for three points in 14 career playoff games. In the AHL, he has recorded 16 goals and 89 points in 332 career games. Claesson made his professional debut in 2012-13 with the Binghamton Senators in the AHL. His NHL debut came in 2015-16 with the Ottawa Senators when he played 16 games. He spent a total of six seasons professionally with the Senators before the team declined to tender him a qualifying offer as an RFA.
The New York Rangers signed him to a one-year contract and he recorded two goals and six points in 37 games for the Rangers in 2018-19. Last season, he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and spent the season in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers before being traded to the New Jersey Devils in the Sami Vatanen trade. He signed with the Sharks in the offseason and has played just four games for San Jose, spending the rest of his time on their taxi squad.
According to Evolving-Hockey.com’s WAR model, he has been worth 1.4 WAR over his career. He shows good even strength defense numbers, while not providing very much in the way off offensive prowess. The RAPM chart below demonstrates that and illustrates him as being a decent third pairing defenseman.
Claesson is clearly a depth move for the Lightning. He offers a little bit more on the left side defensively than Andreas Borgman. Because he’s on the taxi squad already for the Sharks, there’s no need to try and pass him through waivers or to put him on the active roster.
Magnus Chrona was a fifth round pick of the Lightning in 2018. The Lightning had to pause the draft to ensure that Chrona was actually on the draftable players list. That is a demonstration of how deep the Lightning had gone to find Chrona in Sweden. Chrona had a mediocre season in the J20 SuperElit league for a Skelleftea AIK J20 team that had lost some talent and struggled through the season.
He then came to North America to play for powerhouse University of Denver. His first season as the started was excellent as he posted a 16-6-4 record over 27 games with a 2.15 GAA and .920 SV%. His Sophomore season was weaker though as he put up a 7-11-0 record in 18 games with a 2.47 GAA and .907 SV%.
Chrona was viewed as being a potential NHL back-up with the likelihood that he would more likely end up being a strong third goaltender leading an AHL team. Chrona turns 21 years old in August and was a candidate to turn professional and play for the Syracuse Crunch next season. He also could have remained with the University of Denver for up to two more years.
The Lightning likely felt comfortable with making this move with Chrona after having drafted Hugo Alnefelt, also of Sweden, in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft, and then following it with Russian netminder Amir Miftakhov in the sixth round of the 2020 draft.
Official Press Release
LIGHTNING ACQUIRE DEFENSEMAN FREDRIK CLAESSON FROM SHARKS
Bolts Trade Rights to Goaltender Magnus Chrona
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Fredrik Claesson from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the rights to goaltender Magnus Chrona, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. Claesson will be assigned to the taxi squad.
Claesson, 28, has skated in four games with the Sharks this season, posting three shots on goal and a +1 rating. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound defenseman has appeared in 159 career NHL games over six seasons with the Sharks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators, recording seven goals and 28 points. He set career highs for goals (three), assists (eight) and points (11) during the 2016-17 season while with the Senators. Claesson has also skated in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, all during the 2017 playoffs, registering three assists and four penalty minutes.
“Bringing in Fredrik allows us to have five left shot defensemen and six right shot defensemen with NHL experience on our reserve list,” BriseBois said. “History has proven that you will need depth on defense if you are going to have an extended playoff run.”
The Stockholm, Sweden native has also played in 332 career AHL games over six seasons, collecting 16 goals and 89 points. Last season with the Charlotte Checkers, Claesson notched three goals and 19 points in 47 games, while also serving as the team’s assistant captain.
Claesson was originally drafted by the Senators in the fifth round, 126th overall, at the 2011 NHL Draft.