The six-year, $31MM extension that Tampa Bay gave winger Yanni Gourde on Friday raised more than a few eyebrows given his relative inexperience. Matt Larkin of The Hockey News suggests that the Lightning may have created another problem for themselves with the move as it pertains to pending RFA center Brayden Point. His agent has already indicated that his preference is to wait until the summer to get a new deal for Point finalized and with a strong start that has seen him collect 14 points in 12 games to start the season, the asking price is only going up at this rate. Accordingly, Larkin likens the situation to Toronto and RFA William Nylander where the team may be banking on Point taking a discount to keep the core intact. If he’s unwilling to do so (and doesn’t want to take a bridge contract), GM Julien BriseBois may have to move out a couple of players before next season to free up enough room to re-sign Point and fill out his roster.
More from the Atlantic:
- Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a back injury in mid-October, notes TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie (Twitter link). The veteran has played in just three games this season after beginning the year as a healthy scratch and then suffering this injury just after reaching the 1,000 games played milestone. While he is still likely at least a few days away from returning, it’s worth noting that Montreal is carrying a full roster and they have already lost one player to waivers as a result of that crunch earlier this season.
- Sabres center Tage Thompson will be scratched for the sixth time already this afternoon which has led to some discussion about whether or not the 21-year-old would be better served playing with AHL Rochester instead. Head coach Phil Housley told Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald that they believe that there’s value in keeping him up for extra drills after practice and video sessions but acknowledged that playing time is still most important for his development. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sent down if he’s not back in Buffalo’s lineup over the next few games.