By Greg Auman
Times Staff Writer
TAMPA — When the Lightning traded for defenseman Ryan McDonagh in February, the veteran defenseman found himself in a new locker room for the first time in eight years, unsure of what his new team would be like.
The first impression was promising enough that both sides agreed Sunday to make this home, as the Lightning signed the 29-year-old to a seven-year extension worth $47 million.
"Hockey players, they can get a feel right away on their role and their fit on a team, how things are going to go," McDonagh said. "Right away, I could see a good fit, style, all the skill and speed and depth. You knew right away this was going to be a good team hopefully for a handful of years. It's fun to be a part of those groups."
McDonagh, who played the second-highest ice time for the Lightning during the playoffs, had a year left on his current contract, but on the first day of NHL free agency, the Lightning made keeping him a priority over any new additions.
"We really like his two-way game," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We like the fact that he's a big, strong, good skater … especially we like the character of the person. When he came in, we knew he made us a better team."
The only Lightning players making more per season are two of the team's central leaders in center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman. Tampa Bay has now re-signed both players acquired from the Rangers in February, having given C J.T. Miller an extension worth $5.25 million a year earlier this week.
McDonagh spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Rangers, and had two goals and 24 assists with New York last season before the trade. He had five assists for Tampa Bay in the playoffs as well.
OFF TO TORONTO: Tampa Bay was one of six teams in contention for Islanders center John Tavares, one of the league's top free agents, but he chose to sign with Toronto, adding to a talented young lineup within the Lightning's division.
"He's one of the best players in the league," Yzerman said. "It's obvious to say Toronto is a better team today with that acquisition. … We were excited to be on (his) list and enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to speak with him. … We put our best foot forward and unfortunately we weren't able to land him."
THIS AND THAT: F Matthew Peca, who had played 10 games for the Lightning in each of the last two seasons, signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with Montreal. … RW Erik Condra, who played for the Lightning from 2015-17 and was with Syracuse last season, signed a one-year deal with Dallas. … Tampa Bay signed F Kevin Lynch to a one-year, two-way contract, after the 27-year-old had 14 goals and 12 assist with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch last season. … The Lightning also signed D Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way contract. He played 12 games for the Penguins in 2016-17 and spent last season in the AHL with Cleveland, with three goals and 21 assists.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.