LIGHTNING RE-SIGN DEFENSEMAN DAN BOYLE; SIGN VETERAN FREE AGENT ROB DiMAIO
The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Dan Boyle to a three-year contract and restricted free agent left wing Dmitry Afanasenkov to a one-year contract and have signed unrestricted free agent right wing Rob DiMaio to a two-year contract, Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster announced today. In accordance with club policy, financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
"We are absolutely thrilled to have Dan Boyle back in the fold and we are deeply appreciative of the fact that from the very beginning of negotiations, Dan bought into the concept of being willing to take less to try to keep our team together and take another run at winning the Stanley Cup," Feaster said. "In the new NHL world, skilled, puck-moving defensemen such as Dan are being paid very large premiums to sign, and Dan was only one season away from unrestricted free agency. Nonetheless, he made a commitment to this organization, his teammates and our great fans to take less money and stay in Tampa Bay. He has been the consummate 'team first' guy since the very beginning."
Boyle, 29, has played two-and-half seasons with the Lightning, establishing himself as one of the top two-way defensemen in the NHL. In 196 games with Tampa Bay, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Ottawa native has recorded 27 goals, 85 assists and 131 penalty minutes. He finished the 2002-03 season ranked fifth among NHL defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 53 points, and he tied for first in scoring among defensemen during the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 23 games. Boyle also skated in nine games and recorded three assists for Team Canada at the 2004 World Championships and has been selected to participate in Canada's evaluation camp for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
DiMaio, 37, a member of the original Lightning team in 1992-93, is a veteran of 16 NHL seasons and 833 games with the Islanders, the Lightning, Philadelphia, Boston, the Rangers, Carolina and Dallas. The 5-10, 190-pound Calgary native has recorded 102 goals, 158 assists and 810 penalty minutes in his career.
"Rob Dimaio is a perfect fit for our hockey club and he will give John Tortorella a number of interesting options," Feaster said. "Rob is a tenacious, hard-working player who will enjoy playing within our aggressive fore-checking system. The fact he can play either wing and is more than willing to stand-up for his teammates also makes him a great addition to our team."
A 6-2, 200-pound native of Arkhangelsk, Russia, Afanasenkov, 25, scored six goals and added 10 assists in 71 games with Tampa Bay during the 2003-04 season. He appeared in all 23 games during the Lightning's Stanley Cup Championship run, scoring a goal and adding two assists with six penalty minutes.
"Dmitry Afanasenkov is the perfect example of the 'meritocracy' system we constantly preach around here," Feaster said. "When I sent him his two-way qualifying offer at the AHL minimum during the summer of 2003, he wasn't even in our plans. We never expected he would sign and return his QO. He did so, came to training camp, made our hockey club, played very well for us during the season, and was on the ice during the last two minutes of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
"Affy took every advantage of the opportunity he earned and now we want to see him take his game to a whole new level and start burying his chances."
Boyle was acquired by the Lightning in a trade with Florida on January 7, 2002, and quickly became a regular on the Lightning blue line. He has tallied 13 power-play goals in his two-and-a-half seasons in Tampa Bay and recorded an impressive plus-23 plus/minus rating in 2003-04.
DiMaio has cultivated a reputation as a smart, hard-nosed two-way forward who can kill penalties and contribute offensively. A talented scorer as a junior player in the Western Hockey League, he was named MVP of the 1988 Memorial Cup Tournament while playing for Medicine Hat, and he made his NHL debut with the Islanders the following season.
Tampa Bay chose him in the 1992 Expansion Draft, and he played 93 games with the Lightning (17 goals, 39 points) during the next two seasons before being traded to Philadelphia.
Afanasenkov appeared in 30 games for Lada Togliatti of the Russian Elite League last season, registering two goals and nine assists with 12 penalty minutes. He played in nine playoff games and recorded four penalty minutes. Afanasenkov made his Lightning debut during the 2000-01 season, appearing in nine games and scoring one goal with one assist.