The July 1 date on the calendar no longer means much to JT Wyman.
That was the day the 6-foot-2, 199-pound forward was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
But on June 15, the Lightning signed Wyman to a one-year, two-way deal that he will use to build off a breakthrough, career year in 2011-12.
"He has speed, size, competitiveness and dedication," said Bolts assistant general manager Julien BriseBois, who is familiar with Wyman from their days together in Hamilton of the American Hockey League. "We want a group of high-character individuals and he fits that mold to a T."
And, because he is capable of playing in a number of various situations, "he will compete for a regular roster spot in the lineup," BriseBois added.
Wyman, 26, is known for his versatility.
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When forward Nate Thompson was forced out of the lineup in late December due to a lower body injury, Wyman stepped in and contributed the same style of relentless, gritty play, as well as the defensive awareness that head coach Guy Boucher covets in Thompson, whom he calls "textbook."
The performance in Wyman's Lightning debut on Dec. 23 at Colorado was so good, in fact, Boucher at the time called it "the best game by a call-up we've had in a year and a half."
His consistent play continued shortly after, thus earning him the opportunity to finish out the regular season with the Lightning, for whom he recorded two goals and 11 points in 40 games.
While the numbers aren't exactly impressive, Wyman possesses the rare combination of size and speed that the Lightning currently lack.
Primarily appearing in a checking role this past season, he thrived as a fourth-line energy forward by battling for pucks in the tough areas of the ice, killing penalties, fighting through picks and checks, and using his speed to cut through traffic. When asked by Boucher to take on added responsibilities, Wyman happily obliged by occasionally filling in on the top two lines.
There is this too: The success Wyman enjoyed this past season also brought on a positive change in how he approached the game mentally.
"He goes out there now intent on making plays," BriseBois said. "When he was a younger player, he often looked like he was mostly trying not to make mistakes."
Signed to a two-way deal, Wyman could also add depth to the team's AHL affiliate in Syracuse next season too, but for now, the Lightning will look forward to having him contribute where he can.