TAMPA — Forward Tyler Johnson and the Lightning avoided arbitration Monday when the sides agreed to a seven-year contract worth an average of $5 million per year.
"I'm super excited with how it worked out," Johnson, 26, said. "I wanted to be back in Tampa and they wanted me."
Johnson had 19 goals and 45 points in 66 games last season before becoming a restricted free agent, meaning he could have only received a one-year contract had the sides reached arbitration.
"He's one of our core players," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. "He's in the prime of his career, and we're pleased to lock him up for a significant period of time."
Forward Ondrej Palat, the Lightning's other restricted free agent, has an arbitration hearing set for July 25.
"He's a very important player," Yzerman said of Palat. "I'm very hopefully we can reach an agreement before arbitration."
Yzerman said, when the team and Johnson began talking about an extension during last season, Johnson expressed he wanted to remain in Tampa and he wanted some security. Johnson received both with this deal.
It also allows him the opportunity to help the team finish what it nearly accomplished during the Stanley Cup final in June 2015 when it lost to the Blackhawks in six games.
"We've been close," he said. "I think we have a group that's able to do that, and that's one of the big reasons why I wanted to stay her, because I really feel this is the best opportunity to win a Cup."