Lightning Acquire Restricted Free Agent Defenseman Andrej Meszaros From Ottawa
Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and First-Round Pick Sent to Senators
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired restricted free agent defenseman Andrej Meszaros (AWN-dray MEHT-zahr-ohsh) from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defensemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard as well as San Jose’s first-round pick in 2009 (previously acquired), executive vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton announced.
“We are very excited to acquire the rights of Andrej Meszaros this evening,” said Lawton upon making the announcement. “Andrej is a perfect fit within our plan to rebuild the Lightning into a contender. He has a strong all-around game, he competes, he moves the puck and he can handle big, strong forwards defensively. Perhaps most importantly, we’re pleased to add a 22-year old player with almost 250 NHL games already under his belt; we know Andrej will continue to grow and improve as he matures with the rest of our defense.
“We’d like to thank Filip Kuba and Alex Picard for their service to the Lightning. It’s hard letting go of players that we like, but as we all know you can’t get something for nothing. We needed to move assets in order to bring Andrej to the Lightning and we certainly feel we are a better, more competitive team because of this trade.”
Meszaros, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound native of Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia, played in all 82 games with Ottawa last season, recording nine goals and 36 points. He ranked second on the Senators in points among defenseman, two behind Wade Redden. His six power-play goals were a career high and led all Ottawa defensemen. Meszaros also ranked third on the team in blocked shots with 100 and was fifth on the team in average ice time with 21:02.
A veteran of 246 NHL games, Meszaros has yet to miss a game in his career, playing in all 82 games during each of the previous three seasons. He has recorded 26 career goals and 110 points with 213 penalty minutes. Meszaros has also accumulated 11 power-play goals, four game-winning goals and one shorthanded goal. In 2005-06 he was tied for third overall in the NHL and led all rookies in plus/minus rating with a plus-34. He has played in 34 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording two goals and nine points. He played his first career playoff game and scored his first career playoff goal during the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Lightning.
Meszaros made his North American debut with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League in 2004-05. He played in 59 games with Vancouver, registering 11 goals and 41 points en route to being named the team’s Rookie of the Year and Defenseman of the Year. He was fifth in WHL rookie scoring and was named to the WHL Western Conference’s Second All-Star Team.
The 22-year-old has represented Slovakia in numerous international tournaments, most recently the 2006 World Championships and Olympics. He recorded two assists in six games during the Olympics and played in one game at the World Championships. He captained Team Slovakia at the 2005 World Junior Championships and finished tied for the team lead in goals with three and tied for third with four points. He also ranked fourth in the tournament scoring among defensemen. Meszaros was the youngest player (18) on Slovakia’s 2004 World Junior Championship and World Championship rosters. He recorded a goal and an assist in one game at the junior tournament and one assist in seven games at the World Championships.
Meszaros was selected by Ottawa in the first round, 23rd overall, at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.