The Lightning started draft weekend wheeling and dealing, acquiring defenseman Jason Garrison from the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
Tampa Bay sent Vancouver its second-round pick (50th overall) in 2014, while also acquiring a seventh-round pick from the Canucks in 2015 and the rights to unsigned forward Jeff Costello, who just finished up his senior season at Notre Dame.
Tampa Bay also re-signed D Mark Barberio to a one-year, one-way deal. Barberio, 24, appeared in 49 games with the Lightning last season scoring five goals and adding 10 points. He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent on July 1.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman had been on the lookout for some veteran help on the blue line and landed Garrison, who has four years remaining on a six-year deal he signed as a free agent before the 2012-13 season.
The contract carries a salary cap hit of $4.6 million, and includes a $1.5-million signing bonus this year and next. The 29-year-old will make $5 million this season, $4.5 million next season, $3.6 million in 2016-17 and $2.5 million in the final year of the deal.
After weighing potential free agent options, when Vancouver GM Jim Benning called Yzerman late Thursday to see if there was any interest, Yzerman opted for the trade route to fill a hole in Tampa Bay’s top four on defense.
“He’s a bigger body, he’s a good skater, reasonable at both ends of the rink,’’ Yzerman said. “So we are a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, he’s got the big shot that can help on the power play. And then the way his contract is structured and set up, it’s really good for us.’’
Tampa Bay had interest in signing Garrison when he was a free agent two years ago and he waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal to be made.
“As a player you always want to play for somebody who wants you there,’’ Garrison said. “I think if you are in a situation where they want to move you, and you just stay, you may not be as happy as playing for somebody who wants you and thinks you can play a role.
“I don’t have immediate family, so for me to get up and move is easier than most. (Vancouver) is obviously making changes and I happen to be a part of it, so it was a quick stint there, but I’m excited.’’
In 318 career NHL games, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound defenseman has 38 goals and 108 points with a plus-22 rating. Armed with a booming shot from the point, Garrison made a name for himself in Florida in 2011-12, when he scored a career-high 16 goals with the Panthers, helping him parlay that success the free agent deal from Vancouver. He matched his career high with 33 points with the Canucks last season while appearing in career-best 81 games.
“Surprise, shock, all that,’’ Garrison said. “It was kind of brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago that they wanted to trade me, so I think at this time things have settled down a little bit just because I’ve known about it for a while. But it’s nice to know that Tampa was interested and I’m excited to get things started for next year.’’
In facing Tampa Bay twice last season, Garrison was impressed with how the team played and the direction the Lightning are moving.
“Their team has a very good make up, they have a superstar on their team (Steven Stamkos), they are a winning team,’’ Garrison said. “It was pretty amazing watching them play, their puck possession, their skill level was crazy, and that was without Stamkos in the lineup. So, they play a high-pace game, good possession and I think they have a lot of youth and a lot of energy, but also a lot of leadership and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. ...Hopefully I can help them a little bit more and make the team better.’’