BRANDON — Teammates don’t expect Brayden Point to upgrade his wardrobe any time soon. But after signing a long-term contract extension in the offseason, the Lightning center certainly will be able to add to his collection of Crocs and T-shirts.
The NHL’s goals leader each of the past two postseasons in July signed an eight-season, $76 million extension that begins in 2022-23 and carries an average annual value of $9.5 million.
In his first public comments since signing the deal, Point on Thursday said he wasn’t expecting the extension but was more than happy to sign it.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I never thought growing up and playing that I would get something like that, so it’s extremely special for me and my family. I feel very blessed to sign it, and that’s a lot of trust they put in me and I just hope I can prove to them that I’m worth that contract.”
Just as they did with captain Steven Stamkos, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, defenseman Victor Hedman and right wing Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning locked up their top-line center to a long-term deal before his current one expired.
Point led the Lightning in goals (23) and points (48) this past season and tied for the team lead with six winning goals. In five NHL seasons, he has accumulated 139 goals and 171 assists. His 14 goals each of the past two postseasons were more than any other NHL player.
But the best might be yet to come.
“There’s still lots of work to be done,” he said.
Stamkos said Point “deserves every penny,” given what the 25-year-old has accomplished in his short career, particularly in the playoffs.
“He’s been pretty clutch in those situations,” Stamkos said. “(I’m) looking forward to seeing him maybe buy a new pair of Crocs and hopefully a team dinner. That wallet is pretty tight, so hopefully it loosened up a little bit now and we can have a nice meal on Pointer.”
Forward Alex Killorn said Point isn’t cheap, but he’s not one to spend money needlessly.
“I think that’s kind of why we love him,” Killorn said. “We know he has the money to go spend a lot on certain things, but he kind of sticks to himself and that’s why he’s such an important, special person because he kind of is just that — Brayden Point. I don’t think he’s ever going to change.”
No Maroon or Bogosian on first day
Forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Zach Bogosian were unavailable on the first day of camp. The players were absent due to “a non-COVID-related illness,” the team said. Coach Jon Cooper said he expects the two to be available soon.
• • •
The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.