The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a one-year, $1.9 million contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced. The deal allows the Lightning and Sarich to avoid a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for July 31.
"Once again, Cory Sarich has demonstrated what an outstanding 'team player' he is by electing to settle at a number that worked for the team rather than attempting to hit the home run in arbitration," Feaster said. "Our own attorneys advised us that Cory's award could easily exceed $2 million and in what has been a very overheated arbitration marketplace we had grave concerns about turning the process over to a third party. Cory and his agent understood our cap situation and worked with us to get something done that would help us. I have always said that Cory Sarich stands for what this organization is all about - character, dedication, commitment, team-first loyalty, and a commitment to doing the right things for the right reasons. Cory has once again shown not only his value and importance to our team but also his overall commitment to his teammates, our organization and our fans.
"In a perfect world we would have negotiated a long-term deal with Cory. However, given our salary cap position it was not possible, at this time, to buy-out any of Cory's unrestricted free agency. However, we have already discussed with his agent our desire to begin discussions after January 1st, when the CBA permits such negotiations to commence, on trying to secure Cory's long-term future with the Lightning. Avoiding arbitration helps ensure that both sides are in the right frame of mind at that time."
Sarich, 27, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan played in all 82 games for the third consecutive season in 2005-06, recording a goal, 14 assists and 79 penalty minutes. In 2003-04 he was one of three defensemen to appear in all 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Lightning. Having completed five full seasons with the Lightning, Sarich was acquired in a 2000 trade with the Buffalo Sabres. Since joining the Lightning, he has appeared in 408 regular season games, recording 10 goals, 60 assists and 484 penalty minutes.
Sarich played parts of two seasons in Buffalo before joining the Lightning in 1999-00. The physical, stay-at-home defenseman known for his heavy shot spent the 1998-99 season with the Rochester Americans, where he helped lead the team to the Calder Cup Finals. Sarich was selected to the AHL All-Rookie Team and played in the AHL All-Star Game that season.
Prior to turning pro, Sarich played four seasons in the Western Hockey League with Saskatoon and Seattle, and was named to the WHL West Second All-Star Team following the 1997-98 season. He also skated for Canada in the 1997 and 1998 World Junior Championships, capturing the Gold Medal in 1997.