Dan Girardi was a beloved member of the New York Rangers before he became a millstone on the blueline. And while the Blueshirts recently bought out the final three years of his contract recently, Girardi apparently didn’t have to wait long for a bounce-back.
In signing with Tampa Bay for two years at $3 million per season, Girardi gets one last crack at an NHL roster spot. But what is the upside for the Lightning?
To be sure, Girardi remains one of the most diligent shot-blockers in the league and if you’re still into that kind of thing, he’s going to represent. But Girardi has also been a big drag on possession. Those players typically haven’t been in high demand lately, even if Kris Russell has found a home in Edmonton and the Oilers have been happy with his work.
Now, Tampa Bay was one of the best possession teams in the league this past season, so perhaps getting a player who does other things is the key here. The Bolts do need blueliners and Girardi can serve as a safety net if the highly-touted Mikhail Sergachev needs more development time before making a full-time NHL impact. Jake Dotchin is another option in that vein and he managed to keep up with star Victor Hedman when injuries crushed the Lightning this past season, but depth is nice to have. Slater Koekkoek is also looking to step up into a bigger role.
With a $3 million price tag, Girardi is fairly low-risk. His salary won’t interfere with Tampa’s need to re-sign Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, while the term is fine. Clearly both parties are hoping for a resurrection here. If it’s not there, the Lightning can move on relatively unscathed.
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