Earlier this afternoon, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced that the Lightning have officially re-signed defenseman Keith Aulie to a one-year, one-way contract.
Aulie was originally acquired by the Lightning on February 27, 2012 in an exchange with the Toronto Maple Leafs in which the Leafs received right wing Carter Ashton.
Aulie played 19 games with the Lightning before being sent to the Norfolk Admirals, the then-Lightning AHL Affiliate, for the last 3 games of their season. Aulie would go on to score 1 goal and 5 assists in the AHL post season to help the Admirals win the Calder Cup.
He is well known to all Lightning fans as the team’s enforcer, taking the place of Steve Downie who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche earlier that season just prior to Aulie’s acquisition. (Don’t even get me started on that subject.)
Last season the Rouleau, Saskatchewan native played in 45 games with the Lightning. During that time, he scored 2 goals and 5 assists with a plus-1 rating.
Of the few players on the Lightning who are willing to drop the gloves and get into it with the other team, Aulie, along with Pierre-Cedric Labrie, is one of the few who can actually fight and win. Aulie is affectionately known to most Bolts fans, and sometimes the media, as “Muhammad Aulie” for his fighting ability.
Some may see things differently; however, I think it is important for a team to have that one person who is not afraid to step in when the opposing team attacks your star player. For example, I have no doubt that put into that situation, Martin St. Louis could stand up for himself, but let’s be realistic here…do we really want to to introduce the potential of someone like St. Louis getting injured during an on-ice entanglement? I think not.
Personally, I am excited to see that the team has decided to re-up Aulie. As I said before, he is one of the few who is hits just as hard as he skates, and will continue to provide some much needed grit to the defensive line.
What do you think of Yzerman’s decision to re-sign the brawler defenseman? What line do you think he will serve the best purpose on? Sound off in the comments below and let your voice be heard.