The Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday reached a two-year agreement with 37-year-old defenseman Sami Salo.
The signing, which reportedly will pay Salo $3.75 million per year, comes as a bit of a surprise considering he has missed an average of 24 games annually since the 2004-05 lockout while dealing with various injuries.
The veteran, who turns 38 in September, just finished a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks before hitting the free agent market Sunday. He played nine seasons with the Canucks, connecting for nine goals and 25 points in 2011-12 in 69 games.
His departure leaves the Canucks with just a trio of top defensemen -- Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler. Salo will likely figure into the Lightning's top four along the blue line -- so long as he's healthy.
He missed time last season due to groin injuries and a concussion suffered Jan. 7 against the Boston Bruins. He's also torn his Achilles tendon playing floorball and injured his shoulder after colliding with teammate Ville Peltonen for Team Finland during a line change at the 2006 Winter Olympics. He'd win a silver medal that year in Turin.
Salo, usually assigned the opposing team's top players, was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the ninth round (No. 239) in the 1996 NHL Draft. He spent four seasons with the Senators before being traded to the Canucks in September 2002. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Finn has 93 goals and 305 points in 761 career games. He has appeared in 100 playoff games, scoring 12 goals and 31 points.