Flash Of Lightning: Jason Garrison

“Flash of Lightning”  is a quick feature that previews a specific player or trade regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman had decided that he was going to make  big moves this offseason, one could say it was partially due to making the playoffs last year but also what making the playoffs mean. It means that the Lightning’s championship window is now open for service and Yzerman is making the moves to help the team inch closer to that goal.

One of those moves Yzerman made was acquiring Jason Garrison from the Vancouver Canucks.  Garrison played 81 games for the Canucks last year and will definitely improve the Lightning’s blue line in a couple of ways.

Per the scouting report done at Bolt Prospects, Garrison is a puck moving defenseman, something the Bolts hasn’t had since, well, Dan Boyle.  Boyle is a solid puck moving defenseman that the Lightning has clearly missed and now they have Garrison to help fulfill that role. Garrison has a booming shot, which will be deadly on the power play. Speaking of the power play, Garrison will be able to use his skill to help quarterback the power play. Not only is Garrison great on the man advantage, he will be great on the penalty kill too. The penalty kill is where the Bolts really struggled last year and this should help tremendously with his vision and puck moving ability.

In terms of overall 5-on-5 play, Garrison plays a solid game defensively doesn’t overplay his positioning and will give the Bolts top line minutes as they phase Eric Brewer out of that role. Brewer has slowly had his minutes diminished and now Garrison will be able to pick up those minutes.  Although Garrison is big and has got speed, he doesn’t play aggressively enough defensively. Yes, he will make solid defensive plays but he doesn’t take enough chances or utilize his speed and size as often as he should.

Along with not playing aggressively, Garrison is a bit injury prone, although he did play in 81 games last season and almost every game in the lockout year too. However, if he stays healthy he will definitely contribute as he did last year. Last year, he had seven goals and 33 points overall.

Garrison is definitely an upgrade over the aging Sami Salo and could be paired with Salo’s former partner Victor Hedman or with Matt Carle.  One thing is for certain, he will definitely be in the top two pairings, meaning that Radko Gudas will be moved down to a more comfortable and manageable role same as Brewer.

Picking up Garrison is a good move and addresses some of the issues the current defensive corps needed to have addressed.  Also even though the cap hit is high, it’s not for very long term which won’t prevent the young talent from coming up.

One of the things that a Stanley Cup championship team needs is depth and with Garrison, Yzerman has his depth defensively.