Prior to the start of the 2021 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning locked in their rising star to a new contract.
The NHL world rejoiced upon hearing that the league and players union agreed to terms on the format of the 2021 season. With teams set to report for training camp on Jan. 3, the defending Stanley Cup champions decided to get some business done.
On Thursday, Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced that the team and forward Anthony Cirelli have agreed to terms on a three-year, $14.4 million contract.
Lightning signing important heading into season
The signing could not have come at a better time for the Lightning, as they learned earlier this week that star winger Nikita Kucherov would miss the entire regular-season due to hip surgery. That allowed the Lightning to place Kucherov on the long term injured reserve, giving the team an extra $9.5 million in cap space to use this season. So, being the cap manipulators that they are, the Lightning decided to lock in their rising star to a multi-year deal.
Cirelli, a 2015 third-round pick by the Lightning, is coming off a career season with the team. In 68 regular-season games, Cirelli recorded 16 goals and 28 assists while posting a plus/minus of +28.
The 23-year-old forward made some noise in Tampa Bay’s run to the Cup, as he scored three goals and tallied six assists in 25 playoff games. In fact, one of those goals was the Game 6-winning goal of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Islanders, which sent Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2015.
Each and every year, the Lightning find a way to re-sign players on their loaded rosters. Other teams are unsuccessful in these types of situations, but the Lightning thrive, as evidenced by the Cirelli signing. Now, Tampa will look to return to the Finals in their debut in the Central Division.