In signing former Nashville Predators goalie Dan Ellis(notes), Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was able to land a Top 5 free agent for a cap hit of $1.5 million per season over two years -- and save roughly $500,000 by allowing Antero Niittymaki(notes) to sign with the San Jose Sharks.
The 30-year-old would have a chance to grow with the organization. By signing a two-year deal, he will either be a bridge to a time when some of the Lightning's prospects -- such as Dustin Tokarski(notes) or Jaroslav Janus(notes) -- are ready, or he can prove he can take the job farther. At the very least he will battle Mike Smith(notes) for the No. 1 job.
Ellis, 30, likely will be motivated after being pushed out of Nashville by the emergence of Pekka Rinne(notes). And Yzerman likes the idea of pushing Smith to be better. That Yzerman got Ellis for such a bargain price is a bonus.
The price is right for Ellis because it's probably what he's worth, instead of some inflated free-market salary for a coveted goalie. He's a good goalie. Not a great one. Maybe not even a starter; the Montreal Canadiens approached signing him as the backup or 1-A to Carey Price(notes) after acquiring his rights and then watching him leave today.
So he's a solid signing for Stevie Y. So is getting Marty St. Louis to agree to a new deal with the Lightning, as he signs an extension "that will kick in after St. Louis finishes his current contract next season for $22.5 million." So was getting out from under Andrej Meszaros's(notes) contract.
One look at Cap Geek tells you Yzerman has a ton of work to do this offseason. This was a strong start.