The Tampa Bay Lightning have come to terms with one of their depth defensemen, inking Andrej Sustr to a one-year, $1.95MM contract. Sustr was one of the team’s restricted free agents that was due a qualifying offer by today’s deadline.
Over the past few seasons, Sustr has turned into a quality option for the Lightning, icing him for around 17 minutes a night and using his huge 6’7″ frame and reach to defend responsibly. The new contract comes as a $0.5MM cap increase, and will take Sustr to unrestricted free agency next season. That is nice fit for Sustr, who with another solid season could see himself as a fairly sought-after commodity next summer.
In 274 NHL games, Sustr has recorded 56 points and is generally regarded as a fairly solid defender. His possession numbers point to an improving shot suppression skill, and at just 26 he still has time to refine his game somewhat. Though he’ll likely find himself on the third pairing for most of the season, there is a chance he can move into a bigger role should the Lightning not add another right-handed defenseman. With the team currently relying on a consistent sophomore season from Jake Dotchin, Sustr will provide some stability behind the youngster.
Tampa Bay, who a few months ago likely couldn’t have afforded to keep Sustr, now have him locked in to a reasonable cap hit and can turn their attention to the large remaining group of free agents. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Dotchin headline a group that could take a good chunk of the summer to get under contract. With just over $20MM remaining to spend, the Lightning could also be a dark horse contender for a big name free agent should they choose to pursue one.