- The Syracuse Crunch have signed Reid McNeill to an AHL contract, taking him away from the St. Louis organization where he spent 2016-17 and adding him to the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate. McNeill was a sixth-round pick of the Penguins in 2010, but has never been able to turn his size and defensive ability into a tryout at the NHL level. In 61 games last year split between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Chicago Wolves, he registered ten points.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Ken Klee as an assistant coach for their AHL squad this season, his first coaching job in men’s professional hockey. Klee had been the head coach for the US Women’s National Team for several years coaching them to gold at both the 2015 and 2016 World Championships. In 934 NHL games, Klee registered 195 points and 880 penalty minutes.
Tuesday: The team has officially announced the signing.
Friday: The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed RFA forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650K at the NHL level, reports TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie. The 25 year-old forward was arbitration eligible.
The former 3rd round pick in 2010 has bounced between the AHL and NHL in his short career. Originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, Bournival was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Ryan O’Byrne. He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Canadiens after the 2015-16 season, and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the offseason as a free agent.
Last season he put up 2G and 1A in 19 games for the Lightning, and 9G and 10A in 38 games for the AHL Syracuse Crunch. He scored an additional 8G and 7A in 22 playoff games for those same Crunch. With 108 career NHL games under his belt, time is running out for Bournival to make an impact at the NHL level. The Lightning do not seem to have room for a player to make the team out of camp, so Bournival will have to capitalize on any mid-season call-ups.
Don’t be surprised if the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to flip their recently signed restricted free agents within the next year. At least that’s what the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes will happen. He writes the long-term signings of Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are likely going to be part of a package the Lightning will eventually make for New York Islanders’ John Tavares at some point next season if the Islanders can’t sign him.
While the Islanders have said they are not trading the veteran, there is growing concern that the 26-year-old is not happy with the franchise and might be ready to move on. The Islanders’ center is coming off a 28-goal season last year with 38 assists for 66 points. While the Islanders should get credit for doing everything they can to keep one of their stars after losing former star Kyle Okposo to Buffalo for nothing, Brooks believes they will be sellers near the trade deadline to avoid another major loss. He compares the situation to Tampa Bay’s worries about losing Steven Stamkos a year ago. In that situation, the Lightning were able to lock up their star to an eight-year deal, but this isn’t the same. The Lightning were a successful franchise and were loaded with talent. That’s not really the case with the Islanders. With stadium issues and a team that has struggled off and on, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tavares was looking at better options.
The undrafted Johnson has shown quite a bit of promise over the years although his numbers have dropped in the last couple of years. The 26-year-old center put up a 29-goal season two years ago, but finished this year with 19 goals and 26 assists in 66 games. Johnson’s seven-year, $35MM deal ($5MM AAV) could keep him in New York for a long time. Palat has quite a bit of similarities to Johnson as he is 26 as well and was not expected to be a top prospect as he was just a seventh-round pick in 2011. The left wing also started strong and has taken a step back from there, putting up 23 goals in his first full season with the Lightning. He still put up solid numbers last year, scoring 17 goals and 35 assists for 52 points. His five-year, $26.5MM deal is worth $5.3MM annually.
Although Tampa Bay might even have to offer more to get a player like Tavares, the deal would also work because both Johnson and Palat have no trade clauses that will kick in next July, so if the plan may be to package them for a star player, this next year will be their best opportunity to make a deal like that happen. On top of that, moving the two of them for Tavares could be a wash, salary-wise as the Islanders star could be asking for a contract in the $10MM range next year.
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to lock up their core pieces, signing Ondrej Palat to a five-year contract worth $26.5MM. The contract will have an average annual salary of $5.3MM, but the breakdown of the deal is as follows:
- 2017-18: $5.6MM
- 2018-19: $6.855MM
- 2019-20: $5.3MM
- 2020-21: $3.445MM
- 2021-22: $5.3MM
This comes on the heels of a seven-year extension for linemate Tyler Johnson, that will see him earn $5MM per season. The fact that Palat comes in a tick ahead of him in terms of salary is a direct result of the length of the contract, as the two have very similar rates of production (though admittedly at different positions).
In the past twelve months (and change), Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has given out long-term deals to Palat, Johnson, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos, while also getting Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy under decently priced bridge deals that will keep them restricted free agents after they expire. All that, plus a heck of a lot of work to clear enough room for it all has the Lightning locked in to this group for quite a while, and will allow them to compete together for the Stanley Cup.
Palat, 26, is giving up four unrestricted free agent years in the deal and will do so at a reasonably priced cap hit. His production since joining the team full time has been excellent, with 218 points in 307 games. During that time he’s also received Selke votes as the league’s top defensive forward three times, and has registered excellent possession numbers throughout. With Jonathan Drouin gone to Montreal, the team will rely on Palat even more as a top offensive weapon and will give him ample powerplay time.
One of the best seventh-round picks in recent history, Palat has come a long way since his humble beginnings in the draft. Passed over completely after his first year in the QMJHL, the Czech winger was taken with the third last pick in 2011 even after scoring 96 points for Drummondville. In what has turned into arguably Yzerman’s best draft, Palat joined Vladislav Namestnikov, Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov on the Lightning’s board that day.
Palat was set to have a hearing on July 25th after filing for player-elected salary arbitration, but was always expected to sign a long-term deal beforehand. With all of the key RFAs now dealt with, Tampa Bay has just over $3.2MM left in cap space—an amazing feat considering the trouble they were in just a few months ago.
Craig Morgan of AZ Sports was first to report the deal, and give the salary breakdown.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times that he is hopeful that he can reach an agreement with RFA winger Ondrej Palat in advance of his July 25th arbitration hearing. Tampa Bay locked up their other key restricted free agent on Monday with the re-signing of Tyler Johnson to a seven-year, $35MM contract.
There’s a good chance that Palat’s agent will be using that exact deal as a comparable in negotiations. The two are coming off statistically similar seasons (Palat averaged 0.69 points per game and Johnson 0.68) while their career numbers are virtually identical (Palat is at 0.71 PPG while Johnson checks in at 0.69). They also happen to be coming off the same three-year, $10MM deals as well. Cap space shouldn’t be an issue on this deal as the Lightning have just over $8.5MM in cap space at the moment per CapFriendly with Palat being the lone NHL restricted free agent still to re-sign.
It’s no secret that Johnson has struggled to stay healthy. His numbers have fallen steadily since his career year in 2014-15 where he put up 72 points. His playoff numbers in consecutive seasons were also impressive, and most likely what secured him the contract. Campbell also believes that Johnson is dependent upon his linemates, and in spite of averaging 53 points in his first four seasons, there’s a lot riding on it for him, and the Lightning.
A move that fell way under the radar during the July 1st free agent frenzy was the New York Islanders acquisition of young goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Isles traded a young player of their own, forward Carter Verhaeghe, to secure the restricted free agent rights to the Latvian keeper. Now, New York has taken the next step toward bringing Gudlevskis in, by coming to terms on a new contract. The team announced a one-year, two-way deal with their new goalie, which is expected to be worth the $650K minimum at the NHL level.
While Gudlevskis has NHL upside, the contract does make sense for both sides. The Islanders still have both Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak under contract for next season and the last thing they want is to have to juggle three goalie like they did in the past with J-F Berube. Gudlevskis is still only 24 as well, and they want him facing shots regularly with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where he will likely get the majority of starts over Christopher Gibson, Stephon Williams, or Eamon McAdam.
However, Gudlevskis could have a much greater role than AHL depth as soon as this season. The Islanders have not been shy about the fact that Halak is available in a trade and, should another team lose their starter and be on the lookout for a stopgap, Halak would be a popular choice. This could vault Gudlevskis into the backup role in 2017-18. Even if that doesn’t happen, Halak is in the final year of his deal and will almost surely walk in free agency. Unless the Isles are unhappy with Greiss and are looking to replace him as starter or bring in a “1B”-type backup, Gudlevskis could move into the backup role next year. No one knows exactly when top goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin will cross the Atlantic, so Gudlevskis could be in line for a long-term NHL job. In his three NHL regular season appearances, the young keeper has been phenomenal, posting a .959 save percentage and 1.37 GAA. It’s a small sample size, but Islanders fans hope to see more of the same when Gudlevskis is called upon in the near future.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and forward Tyler Johnson have agreed to a seven-year/$35MM deal. The cap hit is $5MM. Johnson had 45 points last season, 19 of those points being goals. It’s a $1.7MM AAV increase from the $3.3MM he was previously making. Johnson saw his increase thanks to his scoring prowess and clutch playoff performance.
Johnson emerged as a scoring threat during the 2014-15 playoffs when he lit up the Detroit Red Wings for six goals in the first round while finishing with 24 points (13-11) in 26 playoff games. His Conn Smythe caliber numbers turned a number of heads and made Johnson a bonafide star in Tampa. The following season, Johnson again had a dominant performance, being a point-per-game contributor in 17 playoff games.
Regular season success was strong for the 26-year-old forward who had 50 points (24-26) in his first full season during the 2013-14 year. A season later, Johnson had his career high of 72 points (29-43) and continued his torrid performance into the playoffs. Injuries since have limited his performance, and he dipped to 38 points (14-24) in 2015-16.
With the signing, the Lightning have approximately $8.88MM remaining via CapFriendly. This allows general manager Steve Yzerman to turn his attention to Ondrej Palat, who according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith, is hoping to lock him up prior to an arbitration hearing. Smith quoted Johnson as saying he was “super excited” about the contract extension.
As the list of the players who have filed for arbitration was released earlier today by the NHLPA, a few names stick out as those due a meaningful raise. Arbitration is a tricky process to reliably predict, but it’s a safe bet these names will see their cap hit rise substantially.
Brian Dumoulin – D – Pittsburgh Penguins
There was a time when the young Dumoulin was a well-kept secret in the league, overshadowed by the far flashier play of Kris Letang. Dumoulin’s accolades this last playoff year certainly didn’t go unnoticed, and as the lone defensive defenseman in their core group, he probably holds the greatest job security on the team’s blueline. He doesn’t put up points – only one goal in the last two seasons, but he blocks shots and drives possession while eating a ton of minutes against top competition. As analytics are utilized more and more, his case only gets stronger. A contract well over $4 MM is certainly looking possible.
Colton Parayko – D – St. Louis Blues
This is the name seen most commonly associated with offer-sheets this summer, and with good reason. Parayko plays with the mentality of an old-time defenseman, but he can skate quite well for a large (6’6) man. He’s only had two seasons in the NHL, but he’s impressed since he first took the ice. Again, he isn’t a massive offensive force (he scored 3 goals last season), but he’s already averaging over 21 minutes a night with near equal starts in both the offensive and defensive zone. He’ll be hurt by the quantifiable stats factor, but he’s a big body with a rare right-handed shot to boot. This contract could look relatively cheap compared to his next, if he continues along this course. He should cost around $5.5 MM.
Ondrej Palat – F – Tampa Bay Lightning
Others will look to the undersized center Tyler Johnson as most likely to get a payday. But don’t over look Palat’s consistency – it may give him an edge with arbiters. Johnson does have his 72 point campaign to lean on, but that was now two full seasons ago. The fact that both players couldn’t break 20 goals in the last two seasons will bring their prices back down to Earth. Palat has grown into his role on the team and back-checks with a ferocity not often seen in younger stars. Johnson is no slouch either – they’ve both accumulated Selke votes over the years. These are two pivotal pieces of the Lightning, and their upcoming contracts were a big reason Jonathan Drouin was traded away to Montreal. GM Steve Yzerman will happily lock both up, but he will be hoping for figures under the $6 MM mark.
Viktor Arvidsson – F – Nashville Predators
This would have been an unlikely name on such a list even last December, when you consider how truly meteoric Arvidsson’s rise was. His value in arbitration will be deeply interesting – the shifty winger has played himself into the core of the team within a season. He really only has 2016-17 and the long playoff run to hang his hat on, as he scored only 16 points through 56 games in 2015-16. This year was a remarkable offensive explosion, with 30 goals and 31 assists. At only 5’9, Arvidsson has really shocked many onlookers by how easily he’s adapted to the physicality of the NHL game. His talent has never been in question, and with his production now well-established, it’s safe to believe he’s going to get a cushy award. How bad the damage will be is going to affect Nashville’s cap going forward – I suspect over $5 MM, but there are few comparables.
Mikael Granlund – F – Minnesota Wild
Granlund is perhaps slightly more enticing league wide than fellow Wild RFA Nino Niederreiter. He’s a marginally more cerebral player, and he plays the valuable center position. Neiderreiter is the more natural goal-scorer and larger frame, but Granlund has better PPG and has broken 30 assists thrice. Both players will get paid, as they both broke 25 goals last season and will be important pieces in the State of Hockey for some time. I think the more interesting thing to watch here is whether the Wild play it safe with Granlund and take a one year deal, or attempt to lock him up for longer. This was the first season he really scored with any consistency, but the Wild have shown their faith in the player by continually giving him over 17 minutes of icetime even when he struggled to produce. A one-year would easily command over $5 MM, whereas a longer deal could bring cost down.