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New Lightning defenseman signs six-year deal

Andrej Maszeros said he is ready to put his three seasons with the Senators behind him.

The contract dispute that helped prompt his trade to the Lightning? No hard feelings, the defenseman said.

"I wanted to stay in Ottawa. It just didn't work out. I've got lots of respect for the Ottawa organization.

"But now I'm really excited to go to Tampa. It's a new chapter in my life."

Meszaros, acquired for defensemen Filip Kuba and Alex Picard and a 2009 first-round draft choice, signed on Saturday a six-year, $24-million deal that pays $2.5-million next season; $3.25-million in 2009-10; $4-million in 2010-11 and 2011-12; $4.75-million in 2012-13 and $5.5-million in 2013-14.

The average $4-million salary is the annual salary cap hit. The Lightning is at $55.86-million for this season, just below the limit of $56.7-million.

Meszaros, 22, speaking by phone from his native Slovakia, said the dispute that forced the trade was not only about money.

"I wanted a long-term deal, and Tampa Bay, they wanted to give it to me," he said.

As for the Lightning's commitment, one of the league's best young blue-liners said, "I was surprised they gave up that much. They gave up some good players. I appreciate that. Now it's a great challenge for me to step up and play as hard as I can."

"We gave up an enormously large amount to get him," said Brian Lawton, Tampa Bay's vice president of hockey operations. "But we think Andrej is worth it."

New Lightning defenseman signs six-year deal 08/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 4:58pm]
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