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Lightning free agency: Catching up on who has and has not signed

Among the key players Tampa Bay has not re-signed are Adam Erne and Brayden Point.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) celebrates with the bench after his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 13, 2018, in Tampa. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) celebrates with the bench after his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 13, 2018, in Tampa. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Published Jul. 16
Updated Jul. 17

TAMPA — We’re two months into the offseason and the Lightning has made some moves ... though there are likely big ones still to come.

Tampa Bay has signed 14 players, parted ways with five others and three deals are still on the table, including with high-profile free agents Brayden Point and Adam Erne.

Here is where the team stands so far:

Done deals

Cedric Paquette. The Lightning re-signing restricted free agent Paquette is one of the most recent moves the club has made this offseason. The defensive forward signed a two-year contract worth $3.3 million. Paquette skated in 80 games last season, posting 13 goals and 17 points.

Braydon Coburn. Tampa Bay re-signed one of its veteran defenseman in Coburn earlier this summer, pretty much hinting that he would be the only one out of the Dan Girardi-Anton Strålman-Coburn trio to return next season. Coburn signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay on June 18, a couple of weeks before free agency opened, carrying an average value of $1.7 million annually.

Jan Rutta. Defenseman Rutta was the first to re-sign this offseason. Rutta skated in 14 games in the regular season, posting two assists. He also played in two of the Lightning’s four playoff games against the Blue Jackets. The 28-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $1.3 million, taking a $1 million cut from his last contract.

Cameron Gaunce. Defenseman Gaunce signed a one-year, two-way contract. Gaunce only skated in two games with Tampa Bay this season, but he helped fill in a role when the team was going through a rough spot on the blueline with injuries in late April as the Lightning closed out its regular season against the Senators and the Bruins on the road.

Danick Martel. Despite the fact that forward Martel only appeared in nine games this past season, posting only two assists and usually sitting out as a healthy scratch, Tampa Bay sees something in him. He took a slight pay cut to stay with the program as he inked a league-minimum $700,000 contract ($15,000 less than his last contract) for one year in a two-way deal. He was the first of the Lightning’s restricted free agents to get re-signed this offseason.

Luke Schenn. Julien BriseBois opted to add former Vancouver defenseman Schenn to the Lightning’s group of blueliners right at the start of free agency, offering him a one-year contract worth $700,000. In January, Schenn was traded from Anaheim to Vancouver, playing in a total of 26 games last season and posting two assists.

Luke Witkowski. Former Syracuse Crunch captain Witkowski is returning home after signing a two-year, two-way contract with the Lightning earlier this month. The 29-year-old defenseman skated in 34 games with Detroit last season notching two assists. In 2016-17, his last year with Tampa Bay, he recorded four assists in 34 games.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney (35) defends the goal against the New York Islanders during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Curtis McElhinney. Veteran goaltender McElhinney may have found his new home as a backup goalie in Tampa Bay after signing a two-year contract worth an AAV of $1.3 million. McElhinney played in 33 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season posting a 20-11-2 record (also notching two shutouts) and posting a 2.58 goals-against average with a .912 save percentage.

Carter Verhaeghe. Tampa Bay also opted to re-sign forward Verhaeghe to a one-year, two-way contract. He led the AHL last season in points (82) and goals (34). He led the Syracuse Crunch in points and assists (48) last year, as well.

Gemel Smith. The Lightning signed forward Smith to a one-year, two-way contract earlier this month. Smith skated in 17 games last season with the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins, recording two goals and a three-point year. Before his NHL stint, he played in 47 games in the AHL logging 16 goals and 40 points.

Daniel Walcott. Forward Walcott signed a one-year, two-way contract with Tampa Bay in mid-June. Walcott skated in only five games for the Syracuse Crunch last season after suffering a shoulder injury at the beginning of the year and missing out on 71 games.

Scott Wedgewood. Goaltender Wedgewood signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Lightning earlier this month coming off a 48-game season in the AHL. His record was 28-14-2 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, posting the second-highest mark in the league in terms of wins and shutouts (5).

Spencer Martin. Goaltender Martin is also coming off a decent season in the AHL, signing a one-year, two-way contract with Tampa Bay. In 23 games, he posted a 9-10-2 with a .902 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against average, notching three shutouts.

Chris Mueller. The Lightning adds Mueller to its contingent of goal scorers for the 2019-20 season. Mueller signed a one-year, two-way contract with Tampa Bay. Last season, he skated in 60 AHL games notching 33 goals (setting a career-high mark) and 65 points on the year. He ranked third in the AHL in power-play goals (16).

Dominik Masin, Tampa Bay opted to re-sign defenseman Dominik Masin to a one-year, two-way contract. After 69 games with the Crunch last season, Masin notched two goals and 12 points on the year finishing with a plus-minus of 36, the highest on the team and tying for the second-highest in the AHL. This will be his fifth season with Syracuse.

Moving on

New Jersey Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy (12) lays on the boards, stunned after a check by Tampa Bay Lightning center J.T. Miller (10) during and April 14, 2018, game. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

J.T. Miller. Forward Miller was traded in a deal with Vancouver during the second round of this year’s draft. Miller’s trade helped free up some valuable cap space in exchange for a third-round draft pick this year, a conditional first-round pick in next year’s draft and an AHL goaltender in Hugo Alnefelt.

Anton Strålman. Veteran defenseman Strålman found a new home in Florida with the Panthers after free agency opened up earlier this month. The defenseman was unlikely to ink another deal with Tampa Bay given the salary cap and the fact the organization had already re-signed Coburn. Many Tampa Bay fans were sad to see the Swede leave the club after five years. Strålman’s deal with the Panthers is a three-year contract worth $16.5 million.

Ryan Callahan. Many started questioning what the future held for veteran forward Callahan after he was frequently replaced in Tampa Bay’s lineup with Mathieu Joseph and with impending salary cap issues coming at the end of the season. But all those questions were answered earlier this month when Callahan spoke out about his back disease, effectively ending his career on the ice. The Lightning placed Callahan on the long-term injured reserve for the final year of his contract.

Connor Ingram. The Lightning also decided to part ways with goaltender Ingram, who spent time in Tampa Bay, Syracuse and Orlando. Ingram was traded to Nashville in exchange for a 2021 seventh-round draft pick.

Gabriel Dumont. Syracuse Crunch captain Dumont found a new home with Minnesota earlier this month and signed a two-year, two-way contract worth $700,000. In 59 games with the Crunch, he posted 15 goals and 28 assists.

Still in question

Tampa Bay Lightning's Brayden Point (21), shown carrying the puck in the first period, scored his 40th goal against the St. Louis Blues, Saturday, March 23, 2019, in St. Louis. (Tom Gannam/Associated Press)

Brayden Point. Lightning shutdown center Point is the highest profile free agent Tampa Bay has not re-signed. The trading of Miller, deal with Coburn and moving Callahan to the injured reserve list has eased some of the salary cap tension and doubt about where Point will eventually land. Previous reports said Point, 23, turned down an offer sheet from the Montréal Canadiens, so it’s likely the forward has no qualms about staying in Tampa Bay for a bit longer.

Adam Erne. Lightning forward Erne finished his three-year entry-level contract in 2017-18 and signed a one-year deal with the Lightning for 2018-19. Erne, 24, skated in 65 games last season, posting seven goals and 13 assists for a 20-point year. Erne was not listed among the 40 players who have elected salary arbitration, which likely signals that he and Tampa Bay are close to reaching a deal.

Dan Girardi. It’s unlikely that Girardi, 35, will lace up for another season with Tampa Bay. He has not been reported to be in the talks with any teams. Girardi had a rough stint last season, sitting out the last month of the year with a lower-body injury. He skated in 62 games, posting four goals and 12 assists.

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.


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