Happy Matt Carle Day!

It’s July 4th and you know what that means, time to acquire Matt Carle.

Today is a holiday for many in the US. People will celebrate in different ways. Some will follow tradition and fire up the grill, drink some beers, and shoot off fireworks. Others will shove as many hot dogs in their face as possible in a short amount of time in a touchingly gross tribute to gluttony and over-consumption. Still others will observe the holiday in their own unique way. Maybe watch Rocky IV and eat a big bowl of red, white, and blue jello? I don’t know what you weirdos do.

Just like the rest of us, the Tampa Bay Lightning have their own special way of celebrating July 4th. They acquire Matt Carle!

Twice in Lightning history, the team has added Matt Carle to the roster. Both times it occurred on July 4th. The first was in 2008, when the Lightning traded Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich to the Sharks for Carle, Ty Wishart, a 2009 first-round pick, and a 2010 secound-round pick. Those picks would be become Kyle Palmieri and James Mullin respectively.

But once wasn’t enough for the Matt Carle Experience. The Lightning signed him as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012 to six-year, thirty-three million dollar contract that they would ultimately buy out in the summer of 2016. If they hadn’t bought out that deal, it would have expired this summer.

Carle’s career in Tampa was mixed. His first stint only lasted twelve games before being traded to the Flyers for a third-round pick. His second stint had some highs and lows. His best season in Tampa was 2014-2015, but by the following season, his skills had deteriorated rapidly, leading to the buyout. He would ultimately retire in November of 2016 after being released by Nashville.

To learn more about Carle’s career in Tampa, check out this great piece by Justin.

Aside from acquiring Matt Carle, how else have the Lightning celebrated the 4th? Glad you asked! Let’s take a look.

2006 - Re-signed Marc Denis and Norm Milley

Neither player played much with the Lightning. Milley didn’t make it back to the NHL after that contract and Denis played 54 games over the following two seasons putting up a save percentage comfortably below .900. Not great!

2007 - Traded Mitch Fritz for Bryce Lampman and immediately re-signed Lampman

This was an AHL trade and neither player ever played for the Lightning. More notably, this was also the day Stanley Cup hero Ruslan Fedotenko left the Lightning to sign with the New York Islanders. The Isles should maybe consider signing Fedotenko again today, because I think he’s better than the rest of the forwards they’ve signed so far this summer.

2011 - Signed Trevor Smith to a one-year deal

Another AHL signing. Smith did play 16 games and score 5 points for the Lightning in 2011-2012.

2014 - Re-signed Andrej Sustr

This was Sustr’s first contract after his ELC and 2014-2015 was his first full season in the NHL. He played 73 games and scored 13 points for the Lightning. Sustr remains an unrestricted free agent this summer and, who knows, maybe he’ll join the “Matt Carle Double July Fourth Transaction Club.” (Still working on the name a bit. Don’t hold me to it.)

So what should we expect the Lightning to do today? If history is any indication, and it probably isn’t, they’ll either make an AHL move or sign a defender that will become the fans’ favorite scapegoat.

But what if today is the July 4th where the trend corrects? What if this is the day the team acquires Erik Karlsson and we all forget that one time I wrote over six hundred words about how the the Lightning acquired Matt Carle twice on the same day four years apart?

What if?