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July 1, 2009

Bolts Bolster Blueline with Trio of Signings

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have signed unrestricted free agent defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Matt Walker to multi-year contracts. The Lightning also announced that they have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Lukas Krajicek to a one-year deal. The deals were announced today by Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton.

With today's signings, the Lightning now have nine defensemen under NHL contract for the 2009-10 season (not including recent first-round draft pick Victor Hedman or recently-qualified restricted free agents Matt Lashoff, Mike Lundin and Matt Smaby).

“We are thrilled Mattias [Ohlund] elected to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning today,” said Lawton upon making the announcement. “With so many options in front of him, having him elect to play in Tampa demonstrates the faith he has in our team’s strategy and vision for success, which should be exciting for our fans. This signing accomplished two primary goals for us. First, we have added the top-two defenseman we coveted to lead our blue line and second, we have found a leader and a mentor for Victor Hedman as he prepares to play in the NHL this fall.”

“Matt [Walker] is the big, physical, intimidating presence that we lacked on the blue line last season,” said Lawton upon making the announcement today. “He is a high-character, team-first player and he demonstrated that last season, going right back in a playoff game after suffering an ugly, ugly broken finger. He is just the type of player that we were looking for to fill a specific defensive need.”

“Lukas [Krajicek] is one of the elite skating defensemen in the NHL and he played admirably for us last season in a difficult blueline situation,” said Lawton. “We are pleased to sign him for the 2009-10 season and we look forward to seeing for training camp.”

Ohlund, 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, has skated in 770 career NHL games, all with Vancouver. He has amassed 93 career goals and 325 points with 36 power play goals and 19 game-winning goals. Ohlund is the Canucks’ all-time leader in goals by a defenseman and led the team in ice time during the 2006-07 (24:47) and 2007-08 (23:46) seasons. He was named to the NHL All-Star game in 1998-99 and the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1997-98. Ohlund was also recognized by his team, earning the Canucks’ Most Outstanding Defenseman award in 2005-06 and 1999-00.

A native of Pitea, Sweden, Ohlund has played in 52 career playoff games, recording nine goals and 28 points. He is tied for 11th overall on the Vancouver all-time playoff points list.

Ohlund, 32, played in all 82 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season, recording six goals and 25 points. He ranked third on the team in points among defensemen and second in plus/minus with a plus-14 rating. Ohlund also led the team in hits with 152, was third overall in average ice time with 21:34 per game and was fourth in hits with 109. He also played in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording a goal and three points.

A Swedish national, Ohlund has represented his country in three separate Olympic Games. He won the Gold Medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics and also participated in 2002 and 1998. Ohlund also played in the 2001 (Bronze), 1998 (Gold) and 1997 (Silver) World Championships, the 2004 World Cup, as well as the 1996 (Silver), 1995 (Bronze) and 1994 (Silver) World Junior Championships.

Ohlund was drafted by Vancouver in the first round, 13th overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Walker, a 6-foot-3, 214-pound native of Beaverlodge, Alberta, played in 65 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, recording one goal, a career-high 13 assists and a career-high 14 points to go along with 79 penalty minutes. He also played in 17 postseason games for Chicago, recording two assists and 14 penalty minutes as the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings.

Originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the third round, 83rd overall, of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Walker played four seasons for the St. Louis Blues before joining Chicago last season as a free agent. In his five NHL seasons, Walker has played 240 games with two goals, 23 assists and 354 penalty minutes. He has 21 games of NHL postseason experience.

Krajicek, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound native of Prostejov, Czech Republic, played in 71 games with the Lightning last season, recording two goals and 19 points. He led all Tampa Bay defensemen in assists and points while also ranking second in blocked shots with 90. His 71 games played were the second-most played during a season in his career. In 2008-09 Krajicek established career highs for assists, points and average ice time with 19:37.

The 25-year-old has played in 278 career NHL games with Tampa Bay, Vancouver and Florida. Krajicek has registered 10 career goals and 69 points with five power play goals and two game-winning goals. He scored a career-high three goals and tied his career-best with 16 points in 2006-07 with the Canucks. He was traded to Vancouver as part of the move that also sent goaltender Roberto Luongo from Florida to the Canucks. Krajicek made his NHL debut with the Panthers as an 18-year-old during the 2001-02 season. He has played in 12 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with Vancouver in 2006-07, recording two assists.

Krajicek has also played in 135 career AHL games with the San Antonio Rampage, tallying seven goals and 42 points over the course of three seasons. He also played in 168 games with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League during his junior career. He amassed 29 goals and 130 points in three seasons with Peterborough. He was named the best skater, fastest skater and best offensive defenseman in the OHL Eastern Conference in the coaches poll for the 2002-03 season and was voted a finalist as the OHL Eastern Conference’s best skater in the 2001 Coaches Poll.

He as originally drafted by Florida in the first-round, 24th overall, at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to Vancouver with Luongo and a sixth-round pick in 2006 in exchange for Bryan Allen, Alex Auld and Todd Bertuzzi on June 23, 2006. The Lightning acquired Krajicek with Juraj Simek from Vancouver in exchange for Shane O’Brien and Michel Ouellet on October 6, 2008.

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