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Defenseman Matt Carle brings just what the Lightning need

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

It might have been pure coincidence, but July 4 is beginning to hold new significance for defenseman Matt Carle.

On July 4, 2008, Carle was shipped from the San Jose Sharks to the Lightning as part of the Dan Boyle trade. But yesterday, exactly four years later, Carle returned to the Bolts as a free agent following a four-year stint with the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I’m excited to be back,” Carle said. “The organization is going in the right direction, and there have been a lot of changes, but they’re in a different place now and it all starts at the top.”

Carle was originally traded from the Bolts to the Flyers in exchange for Steve Downie and Steve Eminger.

Carle, 27, is different too.

After producing just one goal and two points in 12 games with the Lightning, Carle was traded to the Flyers in exchange for Steve Downie and Steve Eminger, but had not even played 200 career NHL games at the time.

Now, approaching the 500 career-game milestone, Carle returns to Tampa Bay as a more experienced player whose most notable asset perhaps is that he is capable of moving the puck out of his own zone and sparking the transition game from defense to offense that the Lightning have been lacking.

And, in addition to logging top-four minutes, he has proven he can also chip in on the offensive end, as he registered four goals and 38 points last season in 82 games with the Flyers. Three of those goals and 12 of those points, nonetheless, came on the power play.

“We're very pleased to announce Matt's signing,” Yzerman said. “His ability to play in all situations will be a great addition to our defense.”

The deal to land Carle did not take long to complete, especially after the market opened up a bit following the Minnesota Wild’s signings of both forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.

In fact, it came as no surprise that Carle became snatched up rather quickly, as he was perceived to be the second-most sought after free agent defenseman behind Suter.

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