TAMPA — The Lightning offseason is getting busier by the minute, as forward Nick Paul reportedly is nearing a deal to stay with the team.
Paul and the Lightning are closing in on a multiyear agreement, Canada’s TSN TV network reported Thursday night.
And less than 12 hours later, SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Paul’s deal with Tampa Bay will come in at seven years and carry an average annual value of a little more than $3 million.
The news added to an already busy Thursday for the Lightning. The team released its preseason schedule and re-signed defenseman Darren Raddysh to a two-way contract in the morning. Then, a report surfaced that the team is exploring a potential trade fit for defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Thursday evening, assistant Derek Lalonde was named coach of the Red Wings.
Paul is one of three Lightning players — along with veteran forward Ondrej Palat and defenseman Jan Rutta — who can become unrestricted free agents in July. General manger Julien BriseBois said Tuesday he would like to keep all three.
Paul expressed the same sentiments on Tuesday, saying he has enjoyed his time with the team since he was traded from Ottawa in March and would like to return for another shot at the Stanley Cup. The free-agency period opens July 13.
“I obviously love it here,” said Paul, wearing a hat bearing the state flag during Tuesday’s season-ending interviews. “A free agent this summer, but Tampa is definitely a spot that I really enjoyed, and I liked the guys on the team.”
Paul, 27, made an impact with the Lightning, finishing the season with a career-high 32 points between Ottawa and Tampa Bay. He followed with nine points, including five goals, during a postseason run that concluded with a Game 6 loss to Colorado on Sunday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
During his time with the Lightning, Paul contributed on the second penalty-kill unit and in the faceoff circle. He also skated as a top-six forward after Brayden Point suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the first-round playoff series against Toronto and missed most of the rest of the postseason.
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In Ottawa, Paul carried a salary-cap hit of $1.35 million for two seasons.
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