Lightning extend forward Brandon Hagel through 2031-32

Tampa Bay gives the 24-year-old breakout star an eight-year, $52 million extension.
Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel moves the puck down the ice during a game against the Montreal Canadiens in March at Amalie Arena. He is coming off a career-high 30-goal, 64-point season.
Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel moves the puck down the ice during a game against the Montreal Canadiens in March at Amalie Arena. He is coming off a career-high 30-goal, 64-point season. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Aug. 22|Updated Aug. 22

BRANDON — Just five summers ago, Brandon Hagel’s hockey future was as uncertain as could be. Left unsigned by the Sabres, he was about to enter his third season of major junior hockey at the age of 20 without a pro contract.

“And not sure if I’d ever get one,” the Lightning wing said Tuesday. “And five years later, I’m signing a deal that’s going to change my life and get to call a place home.”

Coming off a career-high 30-goal, 64-point season, Hagel finalized an eight-year extension worth a total of $52 million — with an average annual value of $6.5 million — that will keep him with the Lightning for most of the next decade.

For the 24-year-old breakout star, who had been slated for restricted free agency after the upcoming season, the extension runs through 2031-32.

“It feels nice,” Hagel said. “It feels like it got to a point where I proved a lot of people wrong and people that didn’t believe in me. And now, I got this and I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m happy with the city. I’m happy with the team, the ownership, everything around this organization is incredible. And now I just need to get up and go out there and play hockey and enjoy my life.”

After significant roster turnover following back-to-back Stanley Cup wins and three straight trips to the final (before last season’s first-round ouster), Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has successfully locked up the team’s young core for the long haul. He hopes the strategy will allow the franchise to remain Cup contenders for years to come.

The Hagel extension follows last offseason’s eight-year extensions with defensemen Mikhail Sergachev, 25, and Erik Cernak, 26; and forward Anthony Cirelli, 26; all of which begin this season. Last summer also brought a seven-year deal for center Nick Paul, 28.

In addition, BriseBois signed restricted free-agent forward Tanner Jeannot, 26, and 26-year-old forward Mikey Eyssimont, an unrestricted free agent, to two-year deals this summer. Meanwhile, Brayden Point, 27, enters the second season of his eight-year extension.

“We want to build a winning culture here and keep it that way,” Hagel said. “And I think a lot of those guys they’ve locked up have have Stanley Cups, they have rings, and I’m just there to kind of hop on board and help this team try and win.”

Hagel was acquired in a 2022 trade-deadline deal with Chicago that sent two first-round picks, plus forwards Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, to the Blackhawks. He emerged as one of the Lightning’s top two-way forwards this past season.

Hagel showed incredible versatility, meshing with top-line forwards Point and Nikita Kucherov. He also paired with Cirelli and Alex Killorn as a premier forechecker on the team’s best two-way line. In addition, Hagel played a key role on both Lightning special-teams units, his seven power-play goals ranking fourth behind Point, Steven Stamkos and Kucherov. Hagel’s plus-23 plus/minus rating led all Lightning players.

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After retooling a roster that lost significant veteran presence — Killorn signed with Anaheim, while Pat Maroon and Corey Perry were traded — BriseBois was hoping to get an extension with Hagel done this summer but was realistic it might not happen before the start of the season. But with the salary cap expected to increase significantly over the next two years after a $2 million increase the past five seasons, he was able to make a deal with Hagel work now.

“It happened very quick,” Hagel said. “Let’s say a weekend, and it was done. I knew there was a lot of different things going on in the team with some guys going out that had been here a while and stuff like that. So, I knew things needed to be figured out in that sense.

“So I was just kind of coming back a little bit early, skating, working out, getting comfortable again, because I knew this was a big year. And luckily enough I came down and we got to talking, and this is kind of what happens and here we are.”

The only potential item of business left before the beginning of the season is a potential extension with Stamkos, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season. The Lightning have been able to negotiate with their captain since July 1.

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