Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Driven by new contract, Lightning's Killorn off to hot start

Lightning wing Alex Killorn signed a seven-year, $31.15 million contract in the offseason.


Lightning wing Alex Killorn signed a seven-year, $31.15 million contract in the offseason.

TAMPA — Alex Killorn has the big contract now, a seven-year, $31.15 million commitment from the Lightning that he signed during the summer and is actually a two-way street.

In one direction is the relaxation of knowing his future is secure.

In the other is the pressure of living up to that deal added to the weighty challenge of helping a talented team return to the Stanley Cup final.

"I'd rather have a guy who's signed and comfortable," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

One less thing to stress about.

"Whenever you sign a long-term deal, in a way it helps you relax, but in a way, you want to prove to the team that they made the right decision," Killorn said. "When they invest so much in you, you want to be able to show (something) for it. When you can score goals, when you can help the team win, it's huge."

If the season's early returns are any indication, the Lightning's second-line wing is doing just fine.

He has a team-high four goals in the Lightning's first five games, including a key one in Saturday's 4-1 win against the Senators, and he is tied for the team lead with five points. Killorn's play has been a continuation of his play during last spring's playoffs, when he was a major contributor in Tampa Bay's run to the Eastern Conference final. He followed a 14-goal, 40-point regular season with a five-goal, 18-point postseason.

Cooper called Killorn's playoff play "unreal." "He was exceptional then, and he's being rewarded for his effort," Cooper said.

Killorn had three goals in the first four games this season. It took him 20 games to score three goals last season. But that was before he centered a line with Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson. The trio became a unit toward the end of last season. Johnson said they had chemistry almost immediately.

"It just kind of felt natural," Johnson said.

Killorn, 6 feet 1 and 196 pounds, is the one true power forward on the team.

" 'Killer' is a big body," Johnson said. "He's one of those guys, when he gets the puck, he just controls it.

"He has that body. He has that strength. He has that ability to fend off guys. It's nice with him because when he has the puck, you know you have that extra second to get open, try to get to a spot where you need to be, because he can find you. He has the skill to do so, as well."

After scoring a goal in each of the first three games, Killorn joked that he was on pace for an 82-goal season.

"I think it's just a good start," he said. "You hope as you get more mature in this league, you get to know the league a little more and you become a better player. You develop. I'm hoping that happens with me. A couple of playoff series, four seasons now under my belt. … I hope this will be one of my better seasons."

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos sees Killorn's start to this season as the natural progression of a talented player. That Killorn is surrounded by talented teammates helps draw out his abilities. That he has excelled in the pressure cooker that is the postseason helps the learning curve.

"He's been due to have a good season," Stamkos said. "When you get on a roll like he is right now, you feel good about your game and things are going your way, and you just try to ride that wave. He's a guy who's showed up in big moments for us over the course of the last two playoffs. In order for us to play well, he has to be a big part of that."

Driven by new contract, Lightning's Killorn off to hot start 10/22/16 [Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2016 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame


    For Dave Andreychuk, the wait is finally over.

    Dave Andreychuk captained the only Lightning team to win the Stanley Cup.
  2. UPDATE: Rays finalizing deal to get SS Hechavarria for 2 minor-leaguers


    UPDATE, 4:27: In making the deal, the Rays add an elite-level defender to an infield that could use the help. But it also raises a number of questions, such as will they now move Tim Beckham to 2B? Does this mean Matt Duffy is not coming back this season? Is Daniel Robertson or Taylor Featherston going to …

    Adeiny Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.
  3. Timmy Claus is coming to town


    The circus is coming to town.

    Well, close enough.

    Timmy the Tebow is coming to Tampa Bay.

    It’s true. At least it could be. St. Timothy has been promoted by the New York Mets to high Class-A Port St. Lucie. If he stays promoted, Tebow should be in Tampa Bay for eight games beginning August 10 …

    Coming soon: Tim Tebow will hit Tampa Bay in August.
  4. Ranking Malik Zaire among 2017's top transfer quarterbacks


    The Florida Gators' Malik Zaire is among many transfers who could become starters at their new school. Here's how he stacks up in our rankings of top transfer quarterbacks:

  5. Lightning re-sign Yanni Gourde to two-year, one-way deal


    Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fightning to stay in pro hockey.

    Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.