The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent center Andreas Karlsson to a one-year contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.
Karlsson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound native of Ludvika, Sweden, had a dominant offensive season for HV 71 of the Swedish Elite League in 2005-06. In 50 games, Karlsson, 30, led the league in points (55) and short-handed goals (6), was tied for the lead in goals (26), was second in game-winning goals (9), tied for second in plus/minus (+18), was fourth in assists (29) and was 16th in face-off percentage (53.56). He also helped Sweden capture the Gold Medal at the 2006 World Championships with five goals and nine points in nine games to tie for fifth in tournament scoring.
"We believe Andreas will add offense to our third line while also being very responsible defensively," Feaster said. "He is a solid face-off man and he is a very good skater. Our chief scout, Jake Goertzen, and both of our goaltending coaches watched Andreas play at the World Championships this year and, as a staff, immediately phoned assistant general manager Claude Loiselle and recommended that we sign him. Our European pro scout, Mikael Andersson, scouted Andreas extensively during the regular season in Europe and felt he would improve our hockey club. Based on such unanimity among our scouts it was an easy decision to offer Andreas a contract and we look forward to welcoming him to camp."
Originally drafted 148th overall by Calgary at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Karlsson was traded to Atlanta in 1999 and appeared in 153 games with the Thrashers from 1999-2002, recording 11 goals, 38 points and 50 penalty minutes. He also skated for the 2001-02 Chicago Wolves, recording seven goals and 21 points in 23 playoff games as the Wolves captured the American Hockey League's Calder Cup. After a second season in Chicago in 2002-03, Karlsson returned to Europe where he played for Basel of the Swiss League (2003-04) before joining HV 71 for the past two seasons.
Before coming to North America, Karlsson played seven seasons with Leksands of the Swedish Elite League, recording 57 goals, 118 points and 89 penalty minutes in 227 games from 1992-93. He also played in 25 games for Leksands of the Swedish Junior League, tallying 15 goals and 30 points. Karlsson skated for Sweden at the 1995 World Junior Championships in Alberta, helping his team to the Bronze Medal with two goals and four points in seven games.