Through the 5 Hole

September 3, 2009 8:41 PM

Lightning struck with Tanguay

Nice move by the Lightning this week, signing left wing Alex Tanguay to a one-year deal for $2.5 million, a pretty good bargain when you take into account some of the millions other teams have been throwing at free agents.

It's less than half what Tanguay made in each of the past three seasons with the Flames and Canadiens.

Tanguay is a very good offensive player when he's healthy, and he's responsible at the opposite end of the ice, never having been a "minus" player in nine previous NHL seasons.

Is he healthy? That's the rub. Shoulder problems limited Tanguay to 50 games last season in Montreal and he underwent offseason surgery, but he passed a physical before signing with Tampa Bay.

The Lightning probably will try Tanguay on a line with Vinny Lecavalier, whose 29 goals last season were his lowest total in six years. Tanguay isn't a huge goal-scorer -- his 29 goals in 2005-06 with the Avalanche is a career high -- but he's a very good playmaker and should be a terrific setup man for Lecavalier.

I covered Tanguay during his six seasons in Colorado, and he was especially effective in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals when the Avalanche knocked off New Jersey in seven games. Tanguay was a horse in the postseason, and he scored two goals against the Devils in Game 7.

OK, that was eight years ago, but Tanguay is still only 29 and he's never played on a team that's missed the playoffs. If there is one drawback to Tanguay's game, he can be too unselfish at times. He has a strong shot but tends to think pass first. The joke among some writers in Colorado was that he might look to make a pass even while on a clean breakaway; obviously, that never happened.

But Tanguay is a good teammate and he's certain to help the Lightning, which has needed all the help it can get since winning the Cup back in 2004.

Tanguay isn't superstitious, either. He'll continue to wear sweater No. 13. Hopefully, for the Lightning's sake, he proves to be a good luck charm.

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