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Match Point: Lightning ink star center to three year contract

Photo courtesy of Wayne Masut

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, this offseason has been predominantly about one thing: Signing Brayden Point. The 23-year old RFA has been simply fantastic of late for the Bolts. He scored 41 goals and had a career-high 92 points in 79 games last season. Yet, as summer turned to fall, and we inched closer and closer to puck-drop, Point remained unsigned. Finally, one fateful September afternoon, Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois pulled the trigger. 

 

Bridge Bay

Bridge deals are far from unheard of in Tampa. Many times the player ends up sticking around long term when the term ends. Take Nikita Kucherov’s first contract for example. He re-signed for three years, with an AAV of $4,766,666 in October of 2016. Kucherov produced big time over the bridge, and the Lightning locked him up for eight years in 2018, with a well-earned $9.5 million AAV.

Kucherov isn’t the only Bolt to have inked a bridge deal over the years. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Andrei Vasilevskiy among others have all settled for less term following the end of their entry-level contracts.

Core Solidified

With a Point extension in the books, Tampa Bay has their core secured for the foreseeable future. Point is the closest of himself, Kucherov, Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Vasilevskiy to needing a new deal. Stamkos and Hedman are locked up until 2024, Kucherov until 2026 and Vasilevskiy until 2027.

The recipe for winning a Stanley Cup has been proven simple, most recently by the Chicago Blackhawks, who won three cups in five years by keeping their core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith in town.

The Bolts have all the pieces here. Brisebois has done his work. Now it’s time for the boys in blue to go get Stanley.

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