TAMPA — The Lightning’s checklist appears to be complete.
Forward Ross Colton and the Lightning settled on a two-year deal Monday afternoon worth $1 million in 2021-22 and $1.25 million in 2022-23. Colton’s agent, Lewis Gross, confirmed the deal in a message to the Tampa Bay Times.
With Colton’s new deal, the Lightning are $6.865 million over the salary cap, according to PuckPedia, with 22 players on their projected roster. The team can exceed the cap up to $6.875 with defenseman Brent Seabrook on the long-term injured reserve list (Seabrook came to Tampa Bay in a trade for Tyler Johnson).
Colton was the last player to sign with the Lightning of those who were made qualifying offers ahead of free agency. He had a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for next Monday.
Colton, 24, made a key impression on coaches and the front office staff this past season, where he scored the winning goal against the Canadiens in Game 5 to clinch the Stanley Cup.
He acclimated quickly to the NHL, with nine goals and three assists in 30 regular-season games and another six points (four goals and two assists) in the postseason. In his Feb. 24 NHL debut, he opened the scoring in the 3-0 win against the Hurricanes.
During the year, Colton found a consistent role on the Lightning’s fourth line alongside Mathieu Joseph and veteran Pat Maroon. In the postseason, Colton started on the third line in the absence of injured Barclay Goodrow before returning to the fourth line to play with Maroon and Johnson.
The Lightning are set to open the 2021-22 season Oct. 12 against the Penguins.
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