The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Haydn Fleury to a two-year contract with a $762,500 cap hit. Fleury was originally a first round pick, seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Fleury has played in 215 career NHL games with nine goals and 31 assists. In 17 career playoff games, he has recorded two goals and two points.
Drafted from the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL, Fleury made his NHL debut in 2017-18 when he recorded eight points in 67 games, which is the most games he’s played in the NHL in a single season. He’s been a part time contributor for the Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, and Seattle Kraken. Last year with the Kraken, he scored two goals and four points in 36 games.
With news coming out that Zach Bogosian required shoulder surgery after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final that will require a four to six month recovery, there was a spot for another defenseman on the NHL roster. This also came out after the news that the Lightning had signed free agent Ian Cole to a one-year contract to play on the left side of the third pairing for the Lightning.
I initially thought that the Lightning would use Darren Raddysh as the 7th defenseman after re-signing him earlier in the offseason, but with Fleury, the Lightning have a more experienced NHL defenseman to plug into the 7th defenseman role to start the season. Fleury is not that big of a risk to be lost on waivers when Bogosian returns to the line-up and there’s a good chance that he would pass through waivers unclaimed.
Julien BriseBois has also utilized a bit of a trick that he has liked to use before by signing a depth player to a multi-year one-way contract that would discourage another team from claiming him. If a team claims Fleury, they’d be committed to paying him for another year, even if they were able to get him through waivers in the next season since it is a one-way contract that pays the same salary in the NHL and the AHL.
While Fleury has been unable to grab a regular spot in an NHL line up, he does fit the kind of defenseman that the Lightning like. He’s 6’3” and 207 pounds and has the type of size that’s been typical for Lightning defensemen. One thing that also stands out to me when just looking through his stats is that he does not take very many penalties. In 215 career games, he’s only been assessed 45 PIMs. Fleury doesn’t bring much offense to the table, but has put up decent defensive results over the past few years.
For the Lightning, they get a little bit of insurance and depth by signing Fleury. I would bet on him being on the opening night roster as the 7th defenseman and then put on waivers and sent down to the Syracuse Crunch (assuming he clears waivers) to provide an experienced present on the blue line and serve as depth on the blue line.
The Lightning’s only other real option in the organization currently for a left-handed defenseman call-up was Sean Day. In Fleury, the Lightning get a more capable and experienced option to fill in spots. And they get him on the cheap and at a number that’s easy to handle not only this year, but also next year when the Lightning will have some work to do once again to field a roster under the salary cap.