From Stanley Cup champion to free agent and now Chris Kunitz is a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning after signing a one-year deal with the club worth $2 million, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.
#tblightning signs Chris Kunitz to a one-year contract worth $2 million
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) July 1, 2017
The Lightning have already added veteran defenceman Dan Girardi to the mix and now add another veteran presence with Stanley Cup experience in Kunitz.
Kunitz Looking For Resurgence
After a mediocre 29-point season (nine goals and 20 assists) last year with the Penguins, Kunitz will surely use this opportunity with the Lightning to try and add to his already impressive NHL career.
He started his NHL career in 2003-04 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim playing 21 games and recording just six assists.
Since then, he’s had stops in Atlanta, Anaheim (again) and finally Pittsburgh for the past nine years. He has 250 goals and 580 points in 884 regular season games over his career. For a smaller player, he tends to play on the chippy side and has collected 688 penalty minutes over his career.
But Kunitz also brings a lot of postseason experience to the table. He’s played 161 postseason games over his career collecting 27 goals and 92 points. He also has four Stanley Cup to show for it – winning once with Anaheim in 2007 and three times with the Penguins in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
Kunitz: The Penguins’ Edition
For the past nine seasons, Kunitz has donned the yellow, white and black of the Penguins. Along with winning the three Stanley Cups, Kunitz was a major cog in the Penguins lineup and development of young players as they’ve transitioned from the Sidney Crosby draft and into the next generation.
In his time with the club, he played 569 games during the regular season scoring 169 goals and 388 points. He collected 389 penalty minutes over that span as well – playing a physical and edgy game for the Pens.
He averaged nearly three hits per game while with the Penguins and wasn’t afraid to sacrifice his body either blocking shots and getting in the middle of battles at both ends of the ice.
While Kunitz is coming off his worst seasons since coming into the NHL – when he had just six points in 21 games – he should be able to add a lot to a Lightning team already filled with talent.
His best year came back in 2013-14 when he notched 35 goals and 33 assists for 68 points in 78 games. It was the first and only time that Kunitz hit the 30-goal plateau, but look for that to change with the lineup he’ll be a part of in Tampa Bay.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.