In a move that makes sense for both sides, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired veteran defenseman Jason Garrison and the rights to Jeff Costello from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for their second round (50th overall) pick during this weekends NHL Draft.
At 6′ 3″ Garrison was a staple on the Canucks blueline these last two years after spending four seasons as a member of the Florida Panthers organization down south.
He’s definitely shown the ability to be an effective shutdown defender and power play threat, evidenced by his seven goals, four coming with the man advantage, and 33 points while appearing in all but one game last season. For his career, Garrison’s totaled 38 goals, 16 of which came on the power play, and 108 points.
Defensively, he’s only posted a minus rating in two of his six pro years. That does include last season, though his plus-18 rating in 2013 was a career best and the Canucks weren’t exactly considered good anywhere during 2013-14′. Overall, Garrison’s put up an extremely solid plus-22 rating.
The addition of Garrison strengthens the Lightning’s defensive corps immediately, something general manager Steve Yzerman hinted he wanted to do with the many draft picks he holds this year. Plus, this allows the team to release aging blueliner Sami Salo who’s been solid but injury-prone in his few seasons.
Garrison’s also going to fit nicely on a power play that struggled mightily at times this past season, finishing 13th at 18.5 percent, but most of that came from their offense. In fact, only six of the Lightning’s 41 man-advantage goals came from the defense. That’s only going to help moving forward.
With seven picks remaining in this draft, the question now becomes whether Yzerman’s done or are there more moves up his sleeve? Though unknown, one thing’s certain: Garrison’s a great asset to an up-and-coming team, hungry for another Stanley Cup championship.