TAMPA — When Brian Boyle hit the free-agent market, he did his homework.
Boyle talked with former Rangers teammate Ryan Callahan to get the scoop on the Lightning, the team Callahan finished last season with after being traded in March.
After hearing rave reviews on the Lightning — not to mention living in Tampa — Boyle opted to join forces with Callahan once again and signed a three-year contract with Tampa Bay worth $6 million.
Boyle was on his honeymoon in Maui when he signed his new deal, and with wife Lauren Bedford, a model in consideration for the next Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, hailing from Orlando, it didn’t take long to sign on the dotted line.
“It was always something I had my eye on if it came up, and me and my wife talked about it — if down the road, wouldn’t that be a nice place to play,’’ Boyle said. “Lucky for us, it happened two days later and we jumped on it.’’
There was plenty of interest from other teams — Boyle had an offer on the table from the Maple Leafs — to sign the 6-foot-7, 240-pound center who helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup finals last season.
But after the endorsement from Callahan and seeing the direction in which Tampa Bay seems to be heading as a franchise, Boyle left more money on the table to sign with the Lightning.
“He was telling me about how great the area is and how fun it is and with the group what to expect,’’ Boyle said. “He had a great time. He’s real excited and I’m real excited not only to play with Cally again, which is something that is going to be fun, but with a whole new scene. It’s tough to leave (New York). I have a lot of memories that mean a lot, but I’m excited for the change and Tampa looks good on paper right now, which is what a lot of people are saying.’’
Though the Lightning did not make an announcement, Tampa Bay signed D Matt Corrente, a deal Corrente announced via his personal Twitter account.
According to capgeek.com, it is a one-year, two-way deal that pays Corrente $550,000 at the NHL level and $125,000 in the American Hockey League.
The 26-year-old was a first-round pick of the Devils in 2006 and has appeared in 34 career games, all with New Jersey.
The 6-foot, 205-pound right-handed defenseman spent last season with Charlotte in the AHL, Carolina’s top affiliate.
Tampa Bay officially announced the hiring of former general manager Jay Feaster to serve in a new role as executive director of community hockey development. The hiring was reported last week.
In his new role, Feaster — the GM when the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup — will work with youth leagues, high school teams and local rinks to help boost participation and expand the team’s partnerships in the Tampa Bay area.
Feaster most recently worked as general manager for the Flames before he was fired in December.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and wife Penny will continue the Community Hero program this season, with $50,000 being awarded at each home game to a locally nominated individual for his or her respective charitable endeavour.
The first nominating window opened on Monday and closes on Sept. 2. Fans can log on to www.tampabaylightning.com/heroes for information and to nominate somebody for an award.
For the first time, first-person nominations will be considered.