Paying a ton of money for a solid defenseman is nothing new to a team in the National Hockey League. Every player worth having comes with a price tag. But what do you do when that price tag is attached to a player that can’t even hit the ice? At a price tag of $6.75 million dollars over the course of the next 3 seasons, Mattias Ohlund has become the Tampa Bay Lightning’s most expensive player who’s not even playing.
It all started just prior to the 2011-12 season. On October 4, 2011, Ohlund was placed on injured reserve due to inflammation in his right knee.
Just one week later, the 6’4” Swedish defenseman underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees.
There was optimism that Ohlund may be able to return in December of that year, but his left knee had other ideas.
During his recovery, he hit a setback that caused him to need a second surgery on his left knee.
The 36 year old Lightning d-man has not played a single game since the 2011 playoffs. Two seasons later it seems as if Ohlund has all but thrown in the towel on his on-ice career.
Clearly, I’m going to need a miracle to skate again and practice,” he said. “Anybody would like things to be different, but it is what it is.” ~ via Damian Cristodero at the Tampa Bay Times
Since Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper took over the reins behind the bench, Ohlund has taken a more active role with the team. Cooper pushed an initiative that had Ohlund travelling with the team as a consultant.
It is unknown what financial impact the Lightning could be looking at should Ohlund decide to retire before the expiration of his current contract due to the cap benefit recapture formula
When healthy, Ohlund brings a significant amount of veteran leadership and skill to the table for the Bolts. However, it is largely unknown if he will ever be able to hit the ice again.
The Bolts have been a little lax on the defensive side of the ice in the past two seasons.
The addition of Radko Gudas to the defensive make up, as well as the improved game of the Lightning’s younger Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman, has brought the quality of the defense up a notch; however, the Bolts could use less traffic cones, and more gritty, in your face defense.
Even though the outcome doesn’t seem very likely, I hope that the Swedish defenseman is able to return to the Lightning bench sometime in the near future.