The Lightning dug deep to add depth to their lineup on Monday, signing free agent Antti Miettinen to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million each season. This year the salary is prorated, but includes a $500,000 signing bonus and a no-move clause.
Miettinen has played in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League this season with Ak Bars Kazan. Because he was signed after appearing in a European league this season, Miettinen must first clear waivers before officially joining the Lightning. Tampa Bay placed Miettinen on waivers Monday and must wait until noon today to find out if he clears.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said there was interest in signing Miettinen during the summer before Miettinen opted to go to Russia. But after Miettinen played in only 20 games, scoring two goals and eight points for Kazan, his contract with the Russian team ended and he became a free agent.
"A week or two ago when he got out of his contract, his agent sent out an e-mail that said he was free of his contract and if you have interest give him a call," Yzerman said. "We sat around here waiting for a week to see if anyone would sign him. We'll do our best and see what happens."
A seventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2000, the 31-year-old native of Finland has appeared in 472 career NHL games with the Dallas and Minnesota. Miettinen has scored 10 or more goals in all six of his full seasons in the NHL, his best year coming in 2009-10 when he finished with 20 goals. Last season with the Wild, he registered a career-high eight power-play goals.
"He's a guy who averaged between 10 and 20 goals a year the last two years, can play in all situations," Yzerman said. "We're hoping he clears waiver (today). He'll help our team."
Should Miettinen clear waivers, he would not come over right away as he would require a work visa before being eligible to play. Until then, Yzerman said, Miettinen will remain in Finland as things get sorted out.
"We'll know (today) at noon and we're working on getting him a visa and hopefully he's here by the end of the week," Yzerman said.
After sitting out four games with an undisclosed lower-body injury, D Pavel Kubina returned to the lineup Monday. Kubina was injured late in the Dec. 3 game against the New York Rangers but traveled with the team on the recently completed four-game road trip, skating with the team twice.
He was back on the ice Monday morning without wearing the red non-contact jersey. With Kubina back, D Bruno Gervais was a healthy scratch after filling in during his absence. Gervais picked up a goal and was a minus-3 in the four games.
Nuts and Bolts
RW Steve Downie was fined for leaving the bench to enter an altercation during Thursday's game. The exact amount has not been released by the league, but the maximum allowed is $2,500. … D Evan Oberg was recalled from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. … C Blair Jones scored his first goal of the season. … Tampa Bay is 1-for-9 in 5-on-3 situations this season. … Rookie LW Brett Connolly sustained a minor lower-body injury during a scrimmage with Team Canada on Sunday in preparation for the World Junior Championships. The injury, however, did not keep Connolly off the ice Monday.