After inking Andrej Sustr to a contract extension, the Tampa Bay Lightning have also signed Yanni Gourde to a two-year one-way deal. The deal will pay him $1MM per season, and take him to unrestricted free agency in 2019. Gourde was coming off a two-way, minimum salary contract last season and was a pending Group VI unrestricted free agent.
Gourde has had an interesting path to the NHL, going undrafted out of junior before scoring 124 points in 68 games during his final year for the Victoriaville Tigres. That over-aged explosion earned him a few looks in the AHL before finally signing an entry-level contract in 2014. The 25-year old could have signed with anyone, but told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times that the Lightning “gave [him] a chance.” Overlooked no more, Gourde played 20 games in the NHL this season and recorded eight points. Though undersized, he’s proven that he can still be an effective player at the highest level, and now will likely get a shot at playing a more regular role.
Gourde and Sustr represent some of the least important free agents for the Lightning, but still have considerable impact on the fringes of the roster. Finding capable NHL talent for reasonable prices is a big part of keeping your expensive core in tact, as teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh have found out over the years. With the Lightning poised to compete next season if they can stay healthy, getting cost-certainty with contracts like this is an important first step to the offseason.
Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse was first to break the signing.