It has been a tumultuous few years for veteran defenseman Jason Garrison. The now 34-year-old defenseman hit a wall after turning 30 and hasn’t been able to get back to the level of play he displayed as a younger player. His latest team, the Chicago Blackhawks, recently placed him on unconditional waivers and, after clearing, terminated his contract. It was the end of the line for Garrison’s NHL career, but he has quickly landed elsewhere. Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League has announced that they have signed Garrison to a contract for the remainder of the season.
Back in 2012, Garrison signed a six-year, $27.6MM contract with the Vancouver Canucks at the height of his career. Yet, he was then traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the draft in 2014. After one strong season in Tampa, recording 30 points at the age of 30, Garrison only managed 20 more points over the next two seasons combined. The Lightning exposed Garrison in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and made a side deal with the Vegas Golden Knights, giving up a second-round pick and the rights to KHL star Nikita Gusev, to ensure he was selected. Vegas then put Garrison on waivers early on last season and kept him in the AHL for all but eight regular season games. With his long-term contract expired, Garrison became a free agent but did not attract much attention in the off-season. He managed to land a tryout offer with the Edmonton Oilers and did enough to earn a one-year minimum contract. The Oilers even gave Garrison ample play time, starting him in 17 games. Yet, even with numerous injuries on the blue line, Garrison had not produced and it became clear he was not a legitimate option for Edmonton. They dealt him to the Blackhawks in late December as a salary dump in their trade to acquire actual defensive help in Brandon Manning. The next day, Chicago placed him on waivers and then again on unconditional waivers just a few days later.
However, through many difficult years and with many teams, including many games spent with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, Garrison has shown a determination to keep playing hockey. It comes as little surprise that he has found a new team so quickly. Djurgardens, who is currently fighting for a playoff spot in the SHL, is eager to add Garrison’s knowledge and leadership to the roster. The team lacks very much NHL experience, outside of former New Jersey Devil Jacob Josefson, but has plenty of exciting young talent in need of some stability and guidance. They hope that Garrison can answer that bell. While his days in the NHL are surely over, Garrison clearly wants to continue his playing career and can make a great first impression overseas by helping Djurgardens reach the postseason this year.