Tampa Bay Lightning free agency: Grading the Dan Girardi signing


The Tampa Bay Lightning are taking a huge risk signing aging defenseman Dan Girardi.

The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing forward Tyler Johnson helps the team enormously moving forward. With plenty of cap space remaining, it’s only a matter of time before Ondrej Palat signs his extension as well. But the summer’s biggest question mark remains the signing of defenseman Dan Girardi.

Girardi was bought out by the New York Rangers on June 14th, ending his 11-year run with the team. A few weeks later the Bolts turned around and signed him to a 2-year, $6 million contract.

Yes, the signing filled a need for the team after losing Jason Garrison to Las Vegas and Girardi has a lot of NHL experience. But Girardi is still a poor choice for the Lightning.

Girardi wasn’t just some guy on the Rangers, he was one of their alternate captains since the 2013-14 season. So it’s not like Rangers fans ran him out-of-town, it’s because his play had dropped substantially.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Signing a 6-year, $33 million contract in February of 2014, Girardi needed to prove to the Rangers he was worth that kind of money. He didn’t.

His average ice time went from 22:42 minutes in the first year of his contract (2014-15) to just 19:06 minutes last year. Girardi played 82 games in that first year, but dropped to 74 and 63 games in the past two seasons.

His scoring ability has dropped substantially as well. Girardi hasn’t scored 25 points since the 2011-12 season. Yes, defensemen are not primarily on the ice for scoring, but it’s always good if they can put a few pucks in the net. A regression in production is still a regression.

With that in mind, Girardi had just 15 points last year. That total was good for a seven-way tie for 115th among defensemen. For reference, Nikita Nesterov played only 48 games last year but still scored 17 points.

Forget scoring, Girardi’s possession numbers don’t show a player worth $3 million a year, let alone $5.5 million.

Girardi’s Corsi percentage last year was 44 percent, meaning the Rangers controlled the puck 44 percent of the time during Girardi’s ice-time. Out of 30 Rangers players, his percentage was 26th on the team, and last among Rangers defensemen. Girardi’s career Corsi is 47.9%, a far cry from his 54% he had in his rookie season.

Girardi took the puck away 10 times last year and gave the puck away 46 times. Those totals put him 18th and 10th on the team, respectively.

Not all of Girardi’s statistics last year were bad. He led the Rangers with 166 blocked shots and his 107 hits placed him 5th. And while his ice-time has fallen, his 19:07 minutes was still 9th best on the team.

The biggest issue with Dan Girardi is he is 32 and his performance is already dropping. The statistics don’t show a consistent player that the Lightning desperately need, especially when goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is still inexperienced and needs all the help he can get. With such a young defensive core, an aging player who isn’t putting up good numbers doesn’t seem like a great idea.

Next: Analyzing the Tyler Johnson deal

Girardi’s signing was the first of a few questionable calls by the Bolts this summer, but he is easily the poorest choice the team has made so far.

Grade: D