Lightning acquire D Jason Garrison from Canucks
Update The Lightning have acquired defenseman Jason Garrison from the Canucks, along with the rights to forward Jeff Costello and a seventh-round pick, in exhange for a second-round pick in this draft.
In doing so, Tampa Bay landed the top-four quality defenseman it wanted, and didn't have to give up either one of its first round picks in tonight's draft. Garrison, 29, has an attractive front-loaded contract through 2017-18, with a $4.6 million annual cap hit. He had to waive his no-trade clause to come to Tampa Bay.
Garrison said he was initially shocked when his hometown Canucks approached him about trading him two weeks ago, but calls it an "easy decision" to accept the move to Tampa Bay.
"I like it a lot," Garrison said. "They have a very good group of young guys, young talent. When we played them twice this past year when I was with Vancouver, it was unbelievable the talent and the skill level on the team. They play a very quick pace and transition game. I think it's going to be a lot of fun fitting in and working in."
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said the deal came together quickly, with Canucks GM Jim Benning asking Thursday night if he was interested in Garrison, with the two speaking again this morning. Yzerman expects Garrison to play a top-four role, noting his big shot can help on the power play.
"He's a bigger body, he's a good skater, reasonable on both ends of the rink, so we're a little bit bigger, stronger," Yzerman said. "He's got obviously a big shot that can help on the power play. Then his contract the way it's structured is really good for us."
Garrison will make $5 million this season, $4.5 million next season, $3.6 million in 2016-17 and $2.5 milllion in the final year. He is coming off a strong year for Vancouver, recording seven goals (four on the power play) and 33 points. He averaged 20:53 in ice time, and can play a role on the power play.
"I like to think of myself as a two-way defenseman," Garrison said. "First and foremost I'm a defenseman and I play defense, and I like to defend and shut guys down. And it's about breaking the puck out clean and making those first passes crisp and transition to the forwards and letting them work their magic."
Garrison, a White Rock, British Columbia native, has played in 318 NHL games with the Canucks and Panthers, combining for 38 goals (16 on the power play), and 108 points. He played college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Costello recently finished his senior season at Notre Dame, racking up 13 goals. He had 41 goals and 82 points in 145 game in college, and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the Senators.
"I still think I have room to grow," he said. "I was definitely a late bloomer coming into the league. I still have a lot to learn."
Yzerman said ideally he didn't want to give up any picks, but the fact the Lightning still has two first-round picks made it a little easier. They will have seven picks overall. As far as offseason needs, Tampa Bay still wants to find a back-up goaltender, but it looks like it is done addressing the blueline. Yzerman said they'll explore options but it'll be "really difficult" to do something else.
Developing: Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he'd like to ideally find a quality young defenseman who is under contract for a few years, though noted how difficult that type of player is to acquire.
One more option could be available, as TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Friday that Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison might be dealt, even though he has a full no-trade clause, and that the Lightning and Canadiens are possible destinations.
Garrison, 29, could fit what Tampa Bay is looking for, a stout defenseman who can play a lot of minutes and is under team control through 2017-18, plus he has an affordable annual cap hit of $4.6 million. Garrison has racked up 33 points in each of his last two full seasons.
Tampa Bay has a lot of bargaining chips it could use, including two first round picks in tonight's draft (No 19 and No 28), as well as two in 2015. The Lightning also has a glut of young forwards, including former first-round pick Brett Connolly, it could use in a potential deal.
Whether Garrison is indeed available, and Tampa Bay is in the mix, remains to be seen. It'll likely be one of many names thrown around this weekend.
But the Lightning's need for a defenseman is very real, and Yzerman will address that this summer, whether it's in trade or free agency.