The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Otto Somppi to a one-year, two-way contract, avoiding restricted free agency as his entry-level contract was set to expire. The young forward was one of the players who received a qualifying offer from the Lightning yesterday.
Somppi, 23, was originally selected in the seventh round by the Lightning back in 2016, but has been brought along by their development system to the point where he could contribute at the NHL level soon. In 32 games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, the 6’2″ forward scored 12 goals and 26 points. That minor league season came after he played a few games back in Finland, where he added three points for the Lahti Pelicans.
It’s not that Somppi is going to be an NHL star, but if the Lightning can squeeze even a handful of NHL games out of him it will be another win for their scouting and development program. When he was picked in 2016, just six spots from the end of the draft, he had only completed one season in the QMJHL, where he scored 13 goals and 46 points in 59 games. That point total didn’t even improve in his second year with the Halifax Mooseheads, but after a breakout 2017-18 he earned his entry-level deal and turned pro. Time in the ECHL and limited minutes in the AHL were first, but now he’ll return to Syracuse as a key member of their forward group, waiting for his first NHL opportunity.