TAMPA, Fla. – A week after finding a way to keep Ryan Callahan in Tampa Bay, the Lightning have landed two of his former teammates to help him.
Defenceman Anton Stralman was lured to the Lightning as a free agent on Tuesday with a $22.5 million, five-year contract.
He scored one goal and had 13 assists last season for the New York Rangers, and had five assists in 25 playoff games.
A few hours later, centre Brian Boyle became the second member of the Eastern Conference champions to join the Lightning on the opening day of NHL free agency when he agreed to a three-year contract.
Meanwhile, general manager Steve Yzerman’s search for a backup goaltender snared Evgeni Nabokov, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons who was with the New York Islanders last season.
Stralman, 27, has 18 career goals and 112 points over seven seasons with the Rangers, Columbus and Toronto. Stralman had career highs with six goals and 34 points with the Blue Jackets during the 2009-10 season.
The addition of Stralman, Boyle and Nabokov bolsters a roster that many felt would lose Callahan to free agency because his asking price might be too high. Instead, the veteran right wing obtained in the trade that sent Martin St. Louis to the Rangers late last season signed a six-year, $34.8 million to remain in Tampa Bay.
Yzerman, who made a trio of cost-saving trades over the weekend to create additional salary cap space for the start of free agency Tuesday, also announced the signing of right wing Mike Blunden, who appeared in seven games for the Montreal Canadiens last season. Forward Mike Angelidis was re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract.
The flurry of activity as free agency began came on the heels of the Lightning trading forward Teddy Purcell to Edmonton in exchange for Sam Gagner, who was in turn packaged with B.J. Crombeen and sent to Phoenix for a draft pick. Yzerman capped a busy weekend by trading veteran forward Nate Thompson to Anaheim for two draft picks late Sunday.
The moves created more than $5 million in cap space, giving the Lightning about $13 million heading into free agency.