TAMPA - Tampa Bay did not make a big splash on the first day of NHL free agency.
But they sure did cause a big stir.
In one of the worst kept secrets around the league, the Lightning landed veteran defenseman Dan Girardi to a two-year contract that carries an annual salary cap hit of $3 million. Girardi, 33, was recently bought out of the final three years of his contract with the New York Rangers.
Another veteran, four-time Stanley Cup champion forward Chris Kunitz, was signed to a one-year contract for $2 million with bonus clauses that could pay him up to another $1 million.
Tampa Bay also signed veteran goaltender Michael Leighton to a one-year, two-way contract while bringing some depth defensemenin Mat Bodie and Jamie McBain, both on one-year, two-way contracts along with forward Alex Gallant, also on a one-year, two-way deal.
There was also one trade pulled off as the Lightning sent goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, an unsigned restricted free agent, to the New York Islanders for forward Carter Verhaeghe, a former third round pick in 2013 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But it’s the deal that brought in Girardi that has caused a bit of an uproar.
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