TAMPA — The Lightning liked what it saw from Jan Rutta in his 18 games with Tampa Bay this season. The organization announced a new contract for Rutta on Friday.
Rutta signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $1.3 million. That’s down about $1 million from his previous contract.
The 28-year-old recorded two assists in 14 regular-season games, then two more in four playoff games with the Lightning. Jon Cooper praised his play overall, saying he settled into his role after a few games.
Reducing the salary hit is important for the Lightning. The team doesn’t have much wiggle room with some raises about to go into effect and more players to re-sign, highlighted by Brayden Point.
Four of the eight defensemen Tampa Bay finished the season with are free agents this summer, including Rutta. Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman’s contracts also expire. The collective blue line cap hit ($27.6 million last season) is now $17.5 million for five defensemen, accounting for Ryan McDonagh’s increase and Rutta’s new contract.