Grant Lewis has seen his share of championship hockey in recent years, although the majority of his involvement has been exactly that – watching.
The 25-year-old defenseman has played for two of the American Hockey League’s last three champions – the Chicago Wolves (2008) and the Hershey Bears (2010). He appeared in just two playoff games during the Wolves’ title run and one of the Bears’ postseason contests this past spring.
Interested more in his ability to move the puck, the Nashville Predators traded minor league forward Ian McKenzie to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Lewis on Wednesday.
“You’re always trying to get guys who have been able to win, whatever the level and whatever their contributions have been,” assistant general manager Paul Fenton said. “… We needed depth and he needed a fresh start.”
It was the Predators’ second move in as many days to add depth. On Tuesday, they signed 27-year-old free agent Aaron Johnson.
“They’re both going to contend for a job in Nashville,” Fenton said. “If one of them can unseat somebody, then we have a good problem. If not, then we have some good depth.”
Originally a second-round draft pick (40th overall) by the Thrashers in 2004, Lewis (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent following the season, turned pro in 2007 following a four-year career at Dartmouth.
In 133 career AHL contests, he has three goals and 41 assists, including a career-high 22 assists (in 54 appearances) in 2008-09. He also has one game of NHL experience, March 3, 2009 with Atlanta, also in 2008-09.
McKenzie, a rugged 6-foot-5, 232-pound forward, originally signed with Nashville as a 20-year-old free agent in 2008. He split time the last two seasons between the Predators’ AHL and ECHL affiliates, Milwaukee (82 games) and Cincinnati (50 games), respectively.
“(Lewis) skates very well and can move the puck,,” Fenton said. “He’s the type of guy our defense is built on. If you don’t have someone who can make the first pass and launch your offense in today’s game you’re going to have some problems.”