|DU Alum Matt Carle|
by Mike Brehm
University of Denver Alumnus Matt Carle ended up in a surprising but familiar place.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they had signed him to a six-year deal. TSN reported that it was worth an average of $5.5 million a year. He averaged $3.4 million in his last contract.
The Lightning earlier signed Sami Salo to a two-year deal.
Carle is returning to Tampa Bay exactly four years after he was acquired from the San Jose Sharks as part of the Dan Boyle trade.
He lasted only 12 games with the Lightning that season before being packaged in a deal to the Philadelphia Flyers for Steve Downie and Steve Eminger.
Carle had played every game the past two seasons and had 113 points over the past three seasons. He had a plus-30 rating in 2010-11.
Carle was another key player who chose a smaller market this summer. Suter and Zach Parise landed with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday and touted college free agent Justin Schultz signed with the Edmonton Oilers last week.
The Nashville Predators (who lost Suter), Detroit Red Wings (who saw Nicklas Lidstrom retire) and Philadelphia Flyers (who lost Carle and might have to play without concussed Chris Pronger) are likely among the teams looking among a dwindling number of free agent defensemen.