The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed unrestricted free agent defender Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1.3 million contract, the team announced Sunday. The Lightning would beat out the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche who were all vying for the services of the 29-year-old blueliner, according to Darren Dreger.

Bogosian became a free agent Saturday when the Buffalo Sabres terminated his contract and he cleared unconditional waivers. Bogosian was in the final year of a seven-year, $36 million contract that carried an annual cap hit of $5.14 million.

It’s been a tumultuous season for the veteran defender. Starting the season on the injured reserve and struggling to remain in the lineup, being made a healthy scratch in each of the Sabres final eight games prior to his placement on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the AHL.

Zach Bogosian, Steven Stamkos
Buffalo Sabres defenceman Zach Bogosian and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O’Meara)

Bogosian refused to report to the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, and as a result, the Sabres were looking for a suitor to acquire him with the team even willing to retain up to 50% of his salary.

There were no suitors for Bogosian even at half of his current contract and the Sabres would place him on unconditional waivers with the intention of terminating the contract.

Related: 2020 NHL Deal Tracker

Available to sign with any of the other 30 teams in the NHL as a free agent, there were a few teams who kicked tires on potentially signing the veteran with a few teams stepping up and making their intentions more known than others. The Lightning, evidently, made the strongest push and were a team that Bogosian deemed best suited for him for the remainder of the season.

Lightning Bolstering Depth by Signing Bogosian

This is a smart, low-risk depth move for the Lightning who are already one of the best teams in the entire NHL. With a 40-17-5 record and 85 points, the Lightning sit in second place in the NHL standings behind only the Boston Bruins who have 90 points on the season.

In 19 games this season, Bogosian scored one goal and five points. He would score three goals and 19 points in 65 games last season with the Sabres and should provide some veteran presence down the stretch.

Zach Bogosian Buffalo Sabres
Zach Bogosian has been signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning after having his contract terminated by the Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Though Bogosian was drafted in 2008 and has been playing since the 2008-09 season, originally with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets and then the Sabres, Bogosian has yet to play in a single postseason game. There’s a chance that will change this season with the Lightning almost guaranteed to clinch a playoff berth.

This deal isn’t a major one by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also notable that the Lightning are bolstering their depth while also keeping Bogosian away from potential opponents in the playoffs who are in need of defenders.

The Lightning made a bigger move earlier in the week when they would trade Nolan Foote and their first-round draft pick in 2020 to the New Jersey Devils for Blake Coleman.