The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Cal Foote, the team announced today. The two-year deal carries an average annual value of $850,000. The 22-year-old defenseman will be a bargain for Tampa for now, but has the upside to grow into another impact player (and problematic contract situation) over the course of the next two years.
A first-round pick in 2017, Foote may be the only elite prospect in the entire Lightning organization, who have given picks away left in right in recent years en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. The team is happy to have him, especially since he looks primed to take a step forward this season with even more opportunity on the Tampa blue line. After skating in 35 games last season, Foote only needs to stay healthy and outplay veterans like Jan Rutta and Zach Bogosian and he could be looking at 82 games this year.
A well-rounded defenseman with good size, Foote does not need to be pigeonholed into a certain role for the Bolts. The youngster can hit and block shots and hold his own in the defensive end. He can also move the puck and produce offense. Although Foote only contributed three points in 35 games last year, it was in very limited minutes and affected by a low shooting percentage that should improve. There is a reason why some expected Tampa to make a side deal to protect Foote from Expansion and why others thought the Seattle Kraken would take him; beyond just his age, Foote’s skill set projects top-four upside.