Eric Erlendsson is reporting in his blog  today that the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Jay Leach and David Schneider, a pair of depth defensemen, to one-year, two-way contracts.
Jay Leach, drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 5th round of 1998, played last season for the Boston Bruins AHL affiliation in Providence, which included an NHL debut of 2 games with the Bruins. The 27 year old Leach is a veteran of 241 AHL and 180 ECHL games. At 6-5, 220 lbs, he brings size and a heavy shot from the point.
â€œJay Leach is a big, experienced defenseman with great size and strength,â€ Lighting General Manager Jay Feaster said. â€œHe has a very good, hard shot and can play the point on the power play. He is an honest, hard-working player who competes every shift, and at the AHL level he is a real leader. We have a lot of young defensive prospects in the minors and we sorely lack a veteran leader to help mentor them. Jay will be given every opportunity to make our team; however, we are confident that either way we have again improved the depth in our organization."
Leach had two goals and five assists for seven points last year in Providence. He was plus-1 with 128 PIM.
David Schneider, a 5-9, 190 lbs undrafted graduate of Princeton in 2002, played two season out of college with Trenton of the ECHL before spending the last four seasons playing in the Finnish Elite League.
â€œOur chief scout in Europe, Kari Kettunen, has been watching Schneider play for the past four seasons now and reporting on him to us for at least the past two,â€ Feaster continued. â€œHe is confident that given Schneiderâ€™s mobility, vision and puck skills he will upgrade our blue line at the AHL level and provide us with much needed organizational depth. While he will be given a chance to make the NHL team out of camp, we believe he brings an offensive component to our organizational depth chart that has been lacking in recent years. We are excited that he has chosen to return to play in North America with our organization."
Last year with HPK Hameenlinna, Schneider had eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 51 games. He also had 72 PIM. His statline was nearly identical to the previous year, when he was 8-18-26 in 51 games.
Erik also hinted at rumors of another signing in the works for the NHL club, possibly the #4/5/6 defenseman to fill the role vacated by the departed of Cory Sarich to free agency.