The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed Andrej Sustr to a two-year contract extension.
Tampa Bay didn’t release the financial terms of the deal other than to confirm that it’s one-way, but the contract is worth $2.9 million, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. That’s up from his 2014-15 salary of roughly $874K.
The 24-year-old defenseman participated in his first full NHL campaign last season and registered 13 assists in 72 contests. He also blocked 84 shots and logged 17:42 minutes of ice time per game, including an average of 1:28 shorthanded minutes.
He went on to participate in all 26 of Tampa Bay’s 2015 playoff games during its run to the Stanley Cup Final. He had a goal and an assist and averaged 15:14 minutes per contest.
Tampa Bay now has seven defensemen inked to one-way contracts worth more than $1 million annually, although that includes Mattias Ohlund who hasn’t played since 2011. Ohlund just has one more campaign left on his contract before he’s off the books.
The Lightning didn’t give Mark Barberio a qualifying offer so the 25-year-old blueliner is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. However, they still need to re-sign RFA Luke Witkowski.
Kari Lehtonen ranked eighth among goaltenders in total minutes last season while Antti Niemi was ninth. If everything goes according to plan, neither of them will be in the top-10 next season and that’s something the 31-year-old Finnish goaltenders are comfortable with.
“My year was disappointing, so I want to fix that, and I’m open to doing anything I can to do that,” Lehtonen said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We are adults and we are older in our careers, so I think we can work through anything that comes up. Goalies have a certain friendship and Antti and I are friends, and I think that helps a great deal.”
He added that he thinks he plays better when rested, so he sees the advantage to his playing time being reduced.
Niemi was obviously aware of the situation before inking a three-year, $13.5 million contract on Monday, so it’s no surprise that he’s open to it. He did point out though that this will provide him with more time to recover between starts and work with goalie coach Jeff Reese.
It should help that the duo is familiar with each other. Lehtonen still remembers splitting ice time with Niemi for a game when they were both 10 years old. Much more recently, they were roommates during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This will be an expensive experiment for Dallas as the two netminders have a combined $10.4 million annual cap hit for the next three seasons. That means the Stars will be paying more for its goaltending than even the New York Rangers, which carry the current cap hit leader among netminders in Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million annually).
Defenseman Patrick Wey worked his way through Boston College and made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals on Oct. 7, 2013 at the age of 22. After suffering multiple concussions though, he’s decided to hang up his skates, per the Capitals’ official website’s Mike Vogel.
He sustained his first concussion in what proved to be his final NHL game on March 30, 2014 during a fight with Predators forward Rich Clune. The fact that an experienced combatant like Clune agreed to spar with the rookie didn’t sit well with the Capitals.
“They had a little tangle before the fight and they were talking to each other a bit and Weysie seemed to be a willing combatant,” Troy Brouwer said at the time. “But at the same point guys who are known to be fighters, they have to have enough respect to pick their spots to know when guys are able to fight fighters.”
For his part, Clune reached out to Wey after the incident.
Wey was concussed again in Oct. 24 after absorbing a high hit from Jay Rosehill. He wasn’t able to return from that injury.