Bolts sign RFA defenceman Andrej Meszaros day after trade from Ottawa

TAMPA, Fla. – A day after being traded from Ottawa, restricted free-agent defenceman Andrej Meszaros has signed a six-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Meszaros was acquired from the Senators on Friday in exchange for defencemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard, as well as a first-round draft pick in 2009 (previously acquired).

“The acquisition and signing of Andrej is a strong statement to our players and our fans that the Lightning ownership group is committed to putting the best product on the ice now and for years to come,” said executive vice-president of hockey operations Brian Lawton in a statement.

Ottawa and Meszaros were far apart in their negotiations to re-sign the 22-year-old blue-liner, and with the Lightning threatening to sign Meszaros to a multi-year offer sheet, reportedly worth around US$5 million per season, the Sens decided to work out a trade quickly.

Meszaros made $984,200 last season.

“I’m excited to be joining the Lightning,” Meszaros said. “I’m extremely happy to be heading to Tampa Bay and I can’t wait to take advantage of this opportunity. We should have a great team and I can not wait to get started.

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Meszaros, who has yet to miss a game in his career, playing in all 82 games during each of the previous three seasons with Ottawa. He has recorded 26 career goals and 110 points with 213 penalty minutes. Meszaros has also accumulated 11 power-play goals, four game-winning goals and one short-handed goal.

Meszaros was Ottawa’s first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2004 NHL draft. The native of Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia, excelled in his rookie year, playing all 82 games and racking up 39 points while posting a scintillating plus-minus differential of plus-34. He has played in 34 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording two goals and nine points.