Matt Carle is a fortunate man. The Philadelphia Flyer reached unrestricted free agency when the marketplace was bereft of puck-rushing defenseman.
Nashville Predators free agent Ryan Suter cashed in with a $98 million deal. The well-traveled Dennis Wideman pushed the compensation bar for mid-level offensive defenseman to $5.25 million per year.
And Carle, 27, exploited this seller's market by getting a six-year, $33 million deal to return to Tampa Bay.
The Lightning had Carle before, back in the 2008-09 season. He scored just two points (a goal and an assist) during his 12-game stint after arriving from the Sharks in a trade. Tampa Bay quickly dealt him to Philadelphia.
But times have changed for the Lightning.
“I'm really excited, the organization has done a complete 180-degree since I was there the last time and it starts at the top with ownership and management with Steve Yzerman,” Carle said, according to the Tampa Tribune. “It seems like they have pretty much the same core with a lot of new pieces and I can't wait to be a part of it for the next six years.”
Carle’s best offensive year was first full NHL season, 2006-07 in San Jose. He made a big impact on the power play, scoring eight goals and adding 18 assists with the man advantage.
Since then he has been more of a second power-play unit-type player. His three PPGs last season in Philadelphia were the most since his rookie season.
He scored 35, 40 and 38 points during his three full seasons with the Flyers. He is a solid mid-level performer, but now he is earning Norris Trophy dollars.
Next guy to get paid in this market: Injury-prone Carlo Colaiacovo of the Blues. St. Louis let him hit the market while hoping to upgrade.