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Stanley Cup Final

Matt Carle signs with Lightning

Wednesday, 07.04.2012 / 10:02 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

NHL.com

The free-agent defenseman not named Ryan Suter has found a new home.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Matt Carle to a six-year contract Wednesday night, general manager Steve Yzerman announced via the team's Twitter account. The signing came less than 12 hours after Suter and forward Zach Parise, the two big names on this summer's NHL free-agent market, both signed with Minnesota.

Multiple media reports say the deal is worth a total of $33.5 million, with an average annual value of $5.5 million.

It's a return to Tampa Bay for Carle -- the Lightning dealt him to Philadelphia early in the 2008-09 season. He had three-plus productive seasons with the Flyers, putting up 40 points in 2010-11 and 38 points this past season.

"I'm excited to be back. It was a hard decision. The organization is going in the right direction, and I'm happy to be a part of it," Carle said via the Lightning's Twitter account.

Carle was a second-round pick (No. 47) by San Jose in the 2003 NHL Draft and joined the Sharks late in the 2005-06 season after three years at the University of Denver. San Jose dealt him to Tampa Bay in the summer of 2008 in a trade that sent All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle to the Sharks, and the Lightning sent Carle to Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2008.

The 27-year-old has 32 goals and 170 assists for 202 points in 471 regular-season games, as well as five goals and 30 assists for 35 points in 84 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He had four goals and 34 assists in 82 regular-season games in 2011-12 and was 2-4-6 in Philadelphia's 12 playoff games.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round