Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev is staying in Tampa for nine more years. He’s signed an eight-year extension which will kick in for the 2023-24 season, per his agent Dan Milstein. TSN’s Chris Johnston reports the cap hit is $8.5MM.
That’s not it. Anthony Cirelli has also signed an eight-year extension with the team, this time worth $6.25MM per season according to Bob McKenzie of TSN. The semi-retired insider didn’t stop there. Erik Cernak has also inked an eight-year extension. His will be worth $5.2MM per season.
The team has now confirmed all three deals.
Sergachev was the first extension, and it’s a massive one. The Russian defender made an immediate impact after his trade from the Montreal Canadiens, authoring an impressive 40-point rookie year. Since then, Sergachev has been an important all-around defenseman for the Lightning during their Stanley Cup runs and is now being rewarded for it. Sergachev scored 7 goals and 38 points this season and has scored around that rate for most of his NHL career. Sergachev played 22:28 minutes per night last season and saw time on both the Lightning’s power play and penalty kill.
At max term and an $8.5MM AAV, the Lightning are banking on additional improvements from Sergachev. Sergachev is a great player right now, but $8.5MM is the sort of price tag typically assigned to lineup-anchoring number-one defensemen. Sergachev is now making more than his Norris Trophy-winning teammate, Victor Hedman, and only $500K less than the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Cale Makar. The Lightning are paying Sergachev like a number-one defenseman, and now it’s up to him to back up their faith with his play on the ice.
The second extension announced was one for Cirelli. Cirelli, who is just about to turn 25, is among the top defensive players in all of hockey. He has two top-five Selke Trophy finishes on his resume and helps the Lightning kill penalties. He’s also an important secondary scorer, with 17 goals and 43 points. Another top-of-the-line defensive center, Phillip Danault, was signed last season on a long-term deal with a $5.5MM AAV. Cirelli’s deal is in the same range as that contract.
Finally, we have the extension for Cernak. Cernak came to Tampa Bay as part of a heist of a trade, getting him from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Ben Bishop, who played only seven games in Los Angeles. Cernak has been a stay-at-home, physical top-four defenseman for the Lightning, a player who has admirably handled every challenge thrown to him by coach Jon Cooper. Cernak averaged 2:48 time on ice short-handed last season and was successful in that crease-clearing role. There’s not much offense to Cernak’s game, but the Lightning are very familiar with him and have ensured that so far highly successful marriage is extended.
On the back of all this positive news, BriseBois also announced some unfortunate as well. Joe Smith of The Athletic tweets that Cirelli and defenseman Zach Bogosian underwent shoulder surgery and will be out for the next four to six months, missing the start of the year.