Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Ian Cole to 1-Year Deal

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed veteran defenseman Ian Cole to a one-year contract carrying a cap hit $3 million.

As a veteran defenseman who has played more than 10 years in the NHL, Cole will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Lightning. In the 2021-22 season, he played 75 games with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he posted 19 points, blocked 104 shots, and laid down 110 hits.

This matters because the Lightning recently traded veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh due to cap constraints, who brought a skillset known for his heart and soul play. With this loss, Tampa Bay needed to find a low-cost replacement who could block shots, put down hits, and chip in on the penalty kill.

Related: 2022 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker

Now, this is not a one-for-one replacement of course, but Cole is a great value for a player who brings that toolkit to Tampa Bay. No, he won’t replace McDonagh by any means, but he is a great fit for the franchise that is still looking to win it all now.

Signing Cole Reduces’ Lightning’s Chances at Palat

Now, with this signing, the Lightning have brought more clarity to their lineup, which offers an unfortunate but expected reality. After signing Cole, Tampa Bay will have little remaining cap space which means they likely won’t be able to match any deal for unrestricted free agent Ondrej Palat.

Since he was selected by the Lightning in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Palat worked his way up the organization and became a face of the franchise. After finishing his five-year contract in the 2022 offseason, however, he was due a new deal, and while Tampa Bay worked to retain him, it appears that they just didn’t have the space available to do so.

Ian Cole Carolina Hurricanes
While Ian Cole won’t be a replacement for Ryan McDonagh, he will bring a similar tough-as-nails game plan to the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

So, while the Lightning got a defenseman that they needed, they will likely be losing one of their top performing forwards. This is a reality for any cap-crunched team, but it is still a moment that is difficult for any team to navigate.

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