In 2016, Chris Kunitz played a big role in helping Pittsburgh defeat Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, he’s switched sides.
Kunitz has signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Bolts, the club announced on Saturday.
Kunitz, who turns 38 in September, had been told by Pens GM Jim Rutherford to explore the open market (to be fair, Rutherford told all his UFAs this), and found a deal on the first day of free agency.
Given his pedigree, catching on so quickly isn’t a surprise. Few active NHLers have played — and won — in the playoffs as much as Kunitz. He’s got 161 games on his resume with four Stanley Cups, and was a key contributor for Pittsburgh this past spring.
In 20 games, Kunitz racked up 11 points while averaging 14:52 TOI per night. His nine assists put him tied for fourth on the team, and he famously scored the double-OT winner against Ottawa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Lightning are quite familiar with Kunitz’s postseason exploits. In the aforementioned ’16 series, he had six points in seven games against Tampa to push Pittsburgh onto the Cup Final.
This move is Tampa GM Steve Yzerman’s second noteworthy one of the day. Earlier, he added more experience to the lineup by signing Dan Girardi to a two-year, $6 million deal.