TAMPA —With their stars signed to big contracts and long-term financial commitments made in their young core, the Lightning have to take advantage of roster value when they see it in order to stay salary-cap compliant.
So on Wednesday, they locked up defenseman Darren Raddysh through the 2025-26 season with a two-year extension worth an average annual value of $975,000. Raddysh, 27, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season.
Raddysh has played in just 27 NHL games, including the postseason, but quickly has become a Lightning player development success story. The organization was Raddysh’s third when it signed him to a two-way deal before the 2021-22 season, but it saw enough promise during his first season at AHL Syracuse to make another two-way deal with him — that one for two seasons — last summer.
Called up in early March, Raddysh played in just 17 regular-season games but made an impact quickly as a solid two-way, right-side defenseman, eventually settling in alongside Mikhail Sergachev. In his last eight-regular season games, Raddysh averaged 19:04 of ice time.
The trust Raddysh quickly built was evident during his first postseason, when his 25:13 TOI ranked second on the team behind Sergachev.
The move to invest in Raddysh is much like the one the Lightning made in January to extend rookie defenseman Nick Perbix for two more years just 29 games into his NHL career (for a $1.125 million AAV). Both are examples of the organization taking advantage of cost certainty.
Raddysh’s extension also ensures stability for the right side of the team’s defense corps — a big question mark this time a year ago — for at least the next two seasons. Perbix, a former sixth-round pick, is signed through 2024-25. Top right-shot defenseman Erik Cernak enters the first year of an eight-year, $41.6 million extension with a $5.2 million AAV.
In other team news, forward Austin Watson, 31, will be in Lightning camp on a professional tryout contract. A nine-year NHL veteran who had nine goals in 75 games for the Senators last season, Watson will compete for a bottom-six spot and could add physicality and minutes on the penalty kill.
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