The deal seemingly has no real Expansion Draft implications whatsoever, but the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions snuck it in before the transaction freeze anyway. The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that depth defenseman Fredrik Claesson has signed a one-year, two-way extension with the team. The contract carries a minimum $750K NHL salary and $250K AHL salary.
Though seemingly a minor deal, with the serious cap crunch facing the Lightning this off-season there is no minimum salary player that can be ruled out from earning a regular role on the team. Claesson, 28, has six NHL seasons on his resume, including a full-year stint with the Ottawa Senators a few years ago, and could be ready to challenge for a consistent NHL roster spot once again. Tampa GM Julien Brisebois did go out of his way to acquire Claesson from the San Jose Sharks at the Trade Deadline, head coach John Cooper played him in a pair of games down the stretch, and now his extension has been prioritized this summer. It all points to Claesson being more than just AHL depth next season.
A journeyman defenseman who has mostly played bottom-pair minutes, Claesson has nevertheless been able to produce at a moderate level with 28 points in 161 games, .67 points per 60 minutes. In his standout season with Ottawa in 2016-17, Claesson was also extremely aggressive, logging 158 hits in 64 games. Playing a regular role on a team with the talent of Tampa and an elite goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy taking some pressure off of the defense, Claesson could actually make a difference.