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Free agent defenceman Matt Carle signs six-year deal with Lightning

Philadelphia Flyers' Matt Carle (25) celebrates his first-period goal with Matt Read (24) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 5 of an opening-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Pittsburgh Friday, April 20, 2012. Carle signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gene J. Puskar

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Philadelphia Flyers' Matt Carle (25) celebrates his first-period goal with Matt Read (24) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 5 of an opening-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Pittsburgh Friday, April 20, 2012. Carle signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gene J. Puskar

TAMPA BAY, Fla. - Free agent defenceman Matt Carle signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

Carle is coming off a season where he had four goals and 34 assists while averaging 23:01 minutes per game with the Philadelphia Flyers. He led Philly in blocked shots with 164.

It's a return to Tampa Bay for Carle, who was traded to the Lightning by San Jose exactly four years ago to the day.

The six-foot, 205-pound Alaska native only played 12 games with the Bolts before being traded to Philadelphia early in the 2008-09 season.

Carle has 32 goals, 202 points and a plus-55 rating in 471 career NHL games.

He has played in 84 career playoff games, recording five goals and 35 points.

The 27-year-old was drafted 47th overall by San Jose in the 2003 draft.

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