The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed an interesting depth defenseman, inking Haydn Fleury to a two-year contract. The deal will carry an average annual value of $762.5K, meaning he’ll earn the league minimum in both seasons. Fleury was recently left unqualified by the Seattle Kraken this week, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Not the most high-profile signing of the day in the league, or for Tampa with their three massive extensions handed out, Fleury’s signing is still rather intriguing given Fleury’s history and Tampa’s ability to get the most out of players. The defenseman was drafted seventh-overall by the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2014, long being seen as one of the game’s top prospects. He would debut in 2017-18, playing in 67 games, tallying eight points, all assists. Fleury would spend the next few seasons playing in limited action for Carolina, delivering solid defense with very little offense. He appeared to turn a corner in the 2019-20 season, putting up four goals and 10 assists in 45 games, but after failing to repeat on that success the following year, he was dealt to the Anaheim Ducks.
Eventually selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft, Fleury played just 36 games in Seattle this season, winding up non-tendered. Given the potential and promise that made Fleury such an attractive prospect for so many years, and the glimpse of a breakout seen in 2019-20, Fleury getting a shot with Tampa Bay, who has time and again been able to take players to a new level, is intriguing, and surely encouraging for the 26-year-old defenseman. It’s unclear what role Fleury might be presented with in Tampa, but with the trade of Ryan McDonagh, a new hole has opened up on their left-side defense.