The Southeast Division Gets Defensive

Two big-name blueliners have recently changed addresses and are moving south.

First of all, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Andrej Meszaros from the Ottawa Senators for defensemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard. The Lightning also included a 1st round draft pick in 2009, acquired from San Jose in the Dan Boyle deal.

The next day, the Bolts signed their newly acquired ace to a six year contract worth about 24 million. That's much higher than what Bryan Murray wanted to pay up in Ottawa. Not only is Tampa Bay paying the 22 year old premium money, they gave up a lot to get him as well. Meszaros is a solid defenseman, but has he established himself enough to deserve that kind of money and that kind of return?

This certainly isn't the first time this offseason that Tampa Bay management has acted fast and loose. It's a bit puzzling why they jumped through hoops to drive Dan Boyle out of town, only to bring in a less experienced Meszaros, for about the same kind of money. It's also perplexing why a team which was short on blueliners to begin with, would trade away two, only to bring back one. Ex-Hurricanes Andrew Hutchinson looks to be getting more and more playing time.

We will see how it works out.

In other semi-related news, soon to be ex-Leaf Bryan McCabe is reportedly in Florida ready to join the Panthers. McCabe, who has refused to drop the no-movement clause in his contract for what seems to be years now, has reportedly finally agreed to drop it. Toronto will be getting Mike Van Ryn and a draft pick in return.

Toronto fans will be partying like it's 1999 to be rid of the controversial defenseman, but he has always had a blistering shot from the point on the powerplay. One might wonder about the motive behind the deal from Florida's perspective though. They will be wanting to sign Jay Bouwmeester to a huge deal at some point during the year, or could this trade be an acceptance that Bouwmeester will be moving on?

McCabe is on the books for over 12 million, to be paid over the next three years. Can the Panthers afford to pay two top-tier defensemen, especially considering that their offense is rated among the worst in the league? Also, what is it between Toronto and Florida? They always seem to be dealing with each other, and Jacques Martin always seems to get the worst of it.

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