Tampa Bay Lightning sign European free agent Waltteri Merelä to one-year deal

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      The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right winger Waltteri Merelä to a one-year, two-way contract, the team has announced.

      The 24-year-old is coming off an eventful year that saw him score one goal in his only outing with Finland at the World Championship this year. He also had 33 points in 41 games with Tappara, his second season with the club and fifth year in the top Finnish league. Merelä posted a career-best 21 goals and 44 points with Tappara a year ago.

      The 6-foot-2, 196-pound forward originally had a deal to return to Tappara for next season. But this NHL deal will presumably bring him over to North America, most likely with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Merelä has no experience playing hockey in North America, but his mix of energy and offensive skill should give him a chance to play with the Bolts in a pinch.

      Merelä’s deal is the second the Lightning announced this morning, with the team signing defenseman Sean Day to a one-year extension.

      According to Cap Friendly, the Bolts have $450,000 in projected cap space. The team has some notable RFAs in Ross Colton and Tanner Jeannot. Pending UFAs include Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Alex Killorn, Corey Perry and Ian Cole, as well as goaltender Brian Elliott.

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