TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent left wing Jan Hlavac to a one-year contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced. Hlavac spent the previous three seasons playing in Europe.
Hlavac returned to Europe after the 2003-04 season following five years in the NHL. He has played in 356 career NHL games with the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes. He has scored 78 career NHL goals and recorded 189 points, and his best NHL season came in 2000-01 with the Rangers as he scored 28 goals with 64 points, both career highs. Hlavac scored 15 or more goals in three consecutive seasons from 1999-02 (19, 28 and 16 respectively).
"Jan Hlavac is a highly skilled player who we believe will fit in well within our group of top six forwards and a player we hope will develop some chemistry with Brad Richards,” Feaster said. “He is an excellent skater and is both a playmaker and a guy who can finish. The 'new NHL' is tailor-made for Jan's game, and he expressed through his agent a strong desire to return to the NHL as was evidenced by the cap- and budget-friendly contract Jan signed.
“In addition, John Tortorella coached Hlavac in New York and Torts gave us a very positive recommendation both as to his skill level and as a teammate within the team concept. We are very excited about this signing and look forward to seeing Jan in training camp."
Hlavac, a 6-foot, 200-pound native of Prague, spent the 2006-07 season with Sparta Praha of the Czech Elite League. He scored 20 goals and recorded 31 points with a plus-8 rating in 41 games with Sparta. He ranked fourth on the team in goals and points while ranking fifth in assists with 11. He also played in 16 playoff games, scoring eight goals and adding two assists. He was second on the team in playoff goals.
The 30-year-old ranked fifth in the NHL among rookies with 42 points and was tied for third in the league with 19 goals during his rookie year in 1999-00. In 2000-01 he led the Rangers with six game-winning goals and was sixth with 64 points while leading all second-year players with 28 goals. In 2001-02 he was traded from Philadelphia to Vancouver in December. Later that year he made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut by playing five games with the Canucks. He recorded one point in the postseason.
Hlavac is a five-time representative of the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championships. He has played in 43 career games in the World Championships, scoring 13 goals and registering 13 assists with a plus-17 rating. He also played in two World Junior Championships.
The New York Islanders drafted Hlavac in the second-round, 28th overall, in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. On July 14, 1998 he was traded from New York to Calgary and then to the Rangers on June 26, 1999. He was then traded to Philadelphia on August 20, 2001 and then sent to Vancouver during the 2001-02 season. In November of the next season the Canucks dealt him to Carolina. He finished the season with the Hurricanes and signed as a free agent the next season with the Rangers.