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Tampa Bay Lightning adds to blue line by signing Matt Walker to 4-year deal; likely is done for the day (updated)

The Tampa Bay Lightning further solidified its blue line by signing defenseman Matt Walker, formerly of the Blackhawks, to a four-year deal at $1.7 million per season, owner Oren Koules said.

This comes after the signing earlier in the day of Mattias Ohlund. The two signings, plus the addition of draft choice Victor Hedman, have given the Lightning a much more professional defense very quickly.

Walker, 29, is a 6-foot-3, 213-pounder, who plays a mostly defensive game but is savvy enough to kill penalties. He also plays a somewhat rugged game and had 79 penalty minutes in 65 games. His 13 assists and 14 points last season also were career highs.

"We're so happy," Koules said in a text. "Adding Hedman, Walker and Ohlund should help our D immensely."

Koules said the team is done shopping for the day -- "taking a breath," he said -- but did not rule out more moves in the future.

From the team:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed veteran defenseman Matt Walker to a multi-year contract today, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.   Walker joins Mattias Ohlund as free agent signings aimed at bolstering the Bolts blue line as the team prepares for the 2009-10 season.

“Matt is the big, physical, intimidating presence that we lacked on the blue line last season,” said :placeLawton upon making the announcement today. “He is a high-character, team-first player and he demonstrated that last season, going right back in a playoff game after suffering an ugly, ugly broken finger. He is just the type of player that we were looking for to fill a specific defensive need.” 

Walker , a 6-foot-3, 214-pound native of Beaverlodge , Alberta , played in 65 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, recording one goal, a career-high 13 assists and a career-high 14 points to go along with 79 penalty minutes. He also played in 17 postseason games for Chicago , recording two assists and 14 penalty minutes as the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings.

Originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the third round, 83 rd overall, of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Walker played four seasons for the St. Louis Blues before joining :placeChicago last season as a free agent. In his five NHL seasons, Walker has played 240 games with two goals, 23 assists and 354 penalty minutes. He has 21 games of NHL postseason experience.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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