The Tampa Bay Lightning and General Manager Steve Yzerman had a busy offseason, even if it was just signing integral pieces of its current lineup to new contracts.
It all started with the Lightning signing its associate coach, Rick Bowness, to a multiyear extension. Then on June 24, the Lightning had its first of many player contract extensions. They resigned defenseman Luke Witkowski to a one-year, two-way contract. Also, forwards Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown signed new two-year NHL contract extensions. Yzerman then traded defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to the Arizona Coyotes for a second round 2016 draft pick. The big news heading into the following days was that Lightning Captain Steven Stamos was set to become a unrestricted free agent. Rumors were flying that he could possibly sign with the Lightning, Detroit Red Wings or the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On June 29, the Lightning resigned its Captain to a new eight year contract, and taking him off the free agent market. It was an eight year contract with a cap hit of $8.5 million. The next order of business for Yzerman and the Lightning was July 1, which just happened to be the day that NHL Free Agency started.
The day started off with the Lightning extended its top defenseman, Victor Hedman, to a new eight-year, $63 million contract that will have a $7.875 million cap hit starting in the 2017-18 season. Next up, the backup goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, was signed to a new three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.5 million starting in the 2017-18 season. The Lightning then added some depth to the organization with the free agent signing of forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way contract. Forwards Gabriel Dumont, Jeremy Morin and Pierre-Luc Letrouneau-LeBlond were also signed to one-year, two-way contracts as more organizational depth for the Lightning’s AHL Affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
On July 2, goalie Kristers Gudlevskis was signed to a one-year, two way contract to remain in the organization, most likely playing with the Crunch this upcoming season. Yzerman and the Lightning then took a few days off, but were back at it on July 9, when they signed forward Mike Halmo to a one-year, two-way contract. Perhaps the most surprising offseason move by the Lightning was the signing of Cory Conacher to a one-year, one-way contract. He was with the team previously, but was traded
There were still a few big name Lightning players out there that were unsigned specifically restricted free agents Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov. Yzerman managed to get Killorn signed to a new seven-year contract with a cap hit of $4.45 million per season. Vladislav Namestnikov was signed to a new two-year contract and forward Yanni Gourde was signed to a one-year, two-way contact.
The Lightning and Yzerman did a great job of taking care of its own young players for the future while bringing in some depth for the Syracuse Crunch. There is still work to be done since Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov still are without contracts, but overall the Lighting were one of the offseason winners.