The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration with defenseman Matt Smaby today, signing him to a two-year contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.
"We are pleased to announce this agreement with Matt today," said Lawton upon making the announcement. "He is big, physical and really skates well for a man that stands 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He played well for us last season and I expect his personal development to continue in 2009-10."
Smaby, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, has played in 57 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay. He has recorded four assists and averaged 17:22 in ice time during his career. Smaby made his NHL debut last season after being recalled on March 17, 2008. He has played in 149 AHL games with the Norfolk Admirals and Springfield Falcons, recording five goals and 28 points with 139 penalty minutes.
A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Smaby played in a career-high 43 games with the Lightning last season, recording a career-best four assists and 50 penalty minutes. His 19:05 average ice time was also the highest of his career and was fourth among NHL rookie defensemen with 20 or more games played. Smaby ranked fourth on the Lightning in hits with 122 and blocked hots with 68. He was recalled to Tampa Bay on December 27 and finished the season with the Lightning despite suffering a broken bone in his foot. Smaby recorded his first NHL point with an assist December 27 against Florida.
The 24-year-old Minneapolis, Minnesota native captained the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux team that reached the NCAA Frozen Four in consecutive seasons (2004-05, 2005-06). As a junior, Smaby skated in 45 games with the Sioux in 2005-06, scoring four goals and dishing out 15 assists. He was tied for third on the team in plus/minus rating with a plus-20 rating. Smaby was also one of three Sioux to be named to the All-WCHA Third Team.
Smaby was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round, 41st overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.