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Lightning revamp defense with three deadline deals

by Adam Kimelman

The Tampa Bay Lightning made over their blue line Monday, picking up three defensemen ahead of the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

In three separate deals, Tampa Bay acquired Mike Commodore from the Detroit Red Wings, Keith Aulie from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brian Lee from the Ottawa Senators.

Aulie could have the biggest upside of the three additions. Arriving from the Leafs in exchange for 2009 first-round pick Carter Ashton, Aulie has just 2 assists and a minus-2 rating in 17 NHL games, but at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds, he's more regarded for his defensive-zone play. He had 41 hits and 28 blocked shots in his time with the Leafs this season.

Aulie also has played in 23 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies, totaling 1 assist and a minus-8 rating.

A 2007 fourth-round pick by the Calgary Flames, Aulie joined the Leafs as part of the 2010 trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to the Leafs.

In 57 NHL games the last two seasons, Aulie has 2 goals, 2 assists and a minus-3 rating.

Ashton, 20, has spent his first professional season with the Norfolk Admirals, the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate. In 56 games, the 6-3, 215-pound right wing is third on the team with 19 goals and fifth with 35 points.

Aulie was the second defenseman acquired Monday by the Lightning, who earlier Monday picked up veteran Mike Commodore from the Detroit Red Wings.

Trades are nothing new in the Ashton family. Carter's father, Brent Ashton, was traded eight times in 14 NHL seasons.

Commodore, 32, arrives with Stanley Cup Final experience and at little cost -- the Lightning surrendered a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. The Wings only get the pick if Commodore plays 15 or more regular-season games with the Lightning and Tampa Bay makes the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Lightning have 20 games left in the season, and are six points behind eight-place Winnipeg.

Commodore, who has 2 assists and a plus-3 rating in 17 games with the Red Wings this season, helped the Carolina Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in 2006, and also played with the Calgary Flames in the 2004 Final.

In 471 NHL games in 11 seasons, Commodore has 23 goals, 83 assists and a minus-7 rating. The Lightning will be his eighth NHL team.

Lee, the ninth pick of the 2005 Entry Draft, had struggled to find a full-time job with the Senators. In 35 NHL games this season, he has 1 goal and 7 assists. He's played parts of five seasons with the Sens, but this has been just his second as a full-time member of the NHL roster. In 167 NHL games, the 6-3, 205 pounder has 5 goals, 23 assists and a minus-18 rating.

In return for Lee, the Lightning sent defenseman Matt Gilroy to the Senators. Signed as a free agent this past summer, Gilroy has 2 goals, 15 assists and a plus-2 rating in 53 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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