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Lightning Ink 3-Year ECHL Affiliation with Orlando

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have entered into a three-year affiliation agreement with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. The Solar Bears will serve as the Lightning’s primary ECHL affiliate starting with the 2018-19 season. The Lightning will play a preseason game against the Florida Panthers at Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday, September 27. Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com.

“We are extremely happy to welcome the Orlando Solar Bears into the Lightning organization today,” Yzerman said. “The Solar Bears organization has demonstrated a strong commitment to success that has paid off with numerous playoff appearances. We look forward to being a part of their future accomplishments while also developing our prospects in a world class environment.”

“We are incredibly excited for this new partnership affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Orlando Magic, owners of the Solar Bears. “The Lightning is a first-class organization with tremendous values and vision and we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of their hockey family. “

Added Dan DeVos, chairman of the Orlando Magic, “This is a great day for the Orlando Solar Bears. We couldn’t be more excited to form this partnership with a model franchise like the Tampa Bay Lightning.”
"We are thrilled to be able to announce our new affiliation with the Lightning," Solar Bears president Chris Heller said. "This relationship will not only aid in our on-ice performance, but will also help strengthen the profile of ice hockey throughout Central Florida."
Tickets for the Lightning’s preseason game at Amway Center on Thursday, September 27 against their cross-state rival Florida Panthers will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com. Exclusive pre-sales to Lightning, Magic and Solar Bears Season Ticket Members, as well as Magic Premium members will be offered throughout the week.

The Bolts’ return to Orlando will be the team’s third exhibition game at the Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, and their seventh appearance there overall. Tampa Bay’s most recent game at Amway Center was September 18, 2013, a 4-3 shootout win against the St. Louis Blues.

Tampa Bay’s most recent ECHL affiliation was with the Adirondack Thunder in 2017-18. Prior to that they were affiliated with the Kalamazoo Wings for the 2016-17 season and the Florida Everblades from 2010-2013. The Lightning’s very first ECHL affiliate was the Louisville Icehawks during the Bolts’ inaugural season in 1992-93.

The Solar Bears are members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, and have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in four of six seasons. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, while playing at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.

Bolts Announce Estero Prospect Tourney

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they will participate in the 2018 NHL Prospects Showcase, a three-team tournament at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida from September 8-11. The Lightning will field a team of their top prospects to compete against those of the Washington Capitals and the Nashville Predators. The games are free and open to the public. The Lightning’s participation is presented by Florida Blue.

The Lightning’s full practice schedule and roster will be made available at a later date. The complete game schedule is below:

Date | Game | Time
Saturday, Sept 8 | Washington at Nashville | 1 p.m.
Sunday, Sept 9 | Nashville at Tampa Bay | 1 p.m.
Monday, Sept 10 | Tampa Bay at Washington | 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Sept 11 | Nashville at Washington | 11:30 a.m.

Tampa Bay Re-signs Winger Adam Erne to One Year Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Adam Erne to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000 today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Erne, 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, played in 23 games with the Lightning last season, recording three goals and four points. He also appeared in 41 games with Tampa Bay’s top affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, notching 12 goals and 26 points with a plus-4 rating.

The New Haven, Connecticut native has played in 49 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay, since 2016, registering six goals and seven points. He has logged 150 career AHL games, all with the Crunch and scored 41 goals with 88 points. Erne has played in 22 career Calder Cup Playoff games, all in 2017, recording three goals and 10 points.

Erne was drafted by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Lightning Lock Up Kucherov Until 2027

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year contract extension worth an average of $9.5 million today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. The contract keeps Kucherov signed through the 2026-27 season.

“I’m truly grateful to sign this contract extension to keep me in Tampa for another eight seasons,” Kucherov said. “I’d like to thank the Lightning organization and all of the fans for the support since making the Bay Area my home.”

Kucherov, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, recorded 39 goals and 100 points in 2017-18, along with a plus-15 rating, eight power play goals and seven game-winning goals. He ranked third in the NHL for points, sixth for assists and tied for ninth for goals. Kucherov led the Lightning in most offensive categories in 2017-18, including goals, assists and points, while also ranking tied for second for power play goals and second for game-winners. His 19:49 in average ice time led all Tampa Bay forwards.

The Maykop, Russia native appeared in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2018 as the Lightning lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. He paced the Bolts with 17 points and was tied for first with seven goals and nine assists.

Kucherov, 25, has skated in 365 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay, registering 147 goals, 334 points, 39 power play goals and 23 game-winners. He scored a career-high 40 goals during the 2016-17 season, while his 100 points during this past campaign were also a career best. Since the start of the 2016 season, Kucherov’s 185 points ranks second in the entire NHL, behind only the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid. He also ranks third for goals during that same span with 79, trailing Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (82) and Patrick Laine of the Winnipeg Jets (80).

The two-time NHL All-Star has played in 62 career Stanley Cup Playoff Games, scoring 29 goals and adding 59 points. Dating back to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, no other Lightning player has more playoff goals (28) or points (58) than Kucherov. He also ranks second for assists (30), behind only Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Victor Hedman.

Kucherov was drafted by the Lightning in the second round, 58th overall, of the 2011 NHL Draft

Bolts Give Cedric Paquette 1 year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Cedric Paquette to a one-year contract worth $1 million, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Paquette, 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, played in 56 games with the Lightning last season, recording five goals and nine points, along with two game-winning goals. He also skated in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2018, notching a goal and two points.

A native of Gaspe, Quebec, Paquette has appeared in 236 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay, and has scored 27 goals while notching 50 points. He also has three shorthanded goals and six game-winners. Paquette has 62 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience, recording four goals and eight points.

Paquette was drafted in the fourth round, 101st overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Lightning Offseason: Hotseat Rankings


By Guest Contributor Andrew Weiss

Another NHL season is in the books. The Washington Capitals claimed the Stanley Cup, which meant watching several high-quality videos of a drunk Alex Ovechkin. In order for the Capitals to have won it all, however, they had to go through the Tampa Bay Lightning. This has seemingly become a rite of passage for champions, as three of the past four Stanley Cup winners have defeated the Lightning in the playoffs late in May or early in June. This is a sign that the Lightning have produced successful, strong seasons that led to long postseason runs. It has also painfully reminded fans that Tampa remains a step away from another suntan for Stanley.

You can bet Steve Yzerman, general manager and Jedi of the Lightning, spent just a few mere minutes after the loss to the Capitals before figuring out his next step. A patient, intimidating man, Yzerman was a finalist for the GM of the Year award for good reason. His sneaky good trade to acquire Louis Domingue in late 2017 gave the Lightning a backup goalie they could rely on, which only added to his track record.

This is a man with high exceptions, no worry, and cold, calculating determination. Not someone that takes pleasure in the fact that the Lightning have finished just shy of their goal season after season three of the last four years.

Trying to read his mind is impossible. The closest thing is the following list, a hotseat ranking of the roster from 2017-2018 to determine who is gone, who is close, and who is a fixture for years in Tampa.

The scale originally was going to be 1-10, before realizing it was much easier doing it on a scale of one Matt Carle to 10 Matt Carles. The more Matt Carles a player has, the closer he is to the door.

Bolts Extend Koekkoek with One Year Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, one-way contract worth $865,000, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Koekkoek, 24, played in 35 games with the Lightning last season, posting four goals and eight points to go along with 18 penalty minutes. He set career highs for games played, goals, points, penalty minutes and plus/minus (+4). The 6-foot-2, 193-pound defenseman scored his first two career NHL goals in the same game on October 12, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Koekkoek has appeared in 76 career NHL games, all with the Bolts over the past four seasons, posting four goals and 13 points to go along with 30 penalty minutes.

The Winchester, Ontario native has also skated in 180 career American Hockey League games, recording 12 goals and 54 points to go along with 84 penalty minutes. Koekkoek played in 22 games during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, recording a goal and seven points and helped the Crunch reach the Calder Cup Final.

Koekkoek was originally drafted by the Lightning in the first-round, 10th overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft.

Lightning Sign Depth Defenseman Cameron Gaunce

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Gaunce, 28, skated in 67 games with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League last season, recording three goals and 24 points to go along with 96 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 204-pound defenseman led all Cleveland defensemen for assists with 21 and points. Gaunce also paced the team for penalty minutes during the 2017-18 season.

The Sudbury, Ontario native has appeared in 32 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins over three seasons, registering two goals and five points to go along with 36 penalty minutes. Gaunce has also played in 535 career AHL games with the Monsters, Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins, Portland Pirates and Texas Stars, collecting 24 goals and 171 points. He helped the Texas Stars win the Calder Cup in 2014, skating in 18 postseason games, recording four assists and a plus-6 rating.

Gaunce was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, 50th overall, at the 2008 NHL Draft.

Lightning Give Ryan McDonagh Seven-Year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension worth $6.75 million (AAV) per season, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. The extension will commence with the 2019-20 season.

McDonagh, 29, skated in 63 games last season, splitting time between the Lightning and New York Rangers, registering four goals and 29 points to go along with 20 penalty minutes. He was acquired from the Rangers by the Bolts at this season’s trade deadline on February 26 along with forward J.T. Miller, who himself signed a five-year contract with the Lightning earlier this week. In 14 games with the Lightning, McDonagh posted a pair of goals and three points. He also appeared in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Tampa Bay, collecting five assists while averaging 22:31 of ice time per game. McDonagh ranked second on the Lightning for average time on ice and led the team for blocked shots with 35 during the postseason.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound defenseman has appeared in 530 career NHL games, all with the Rangers and Lightning over eight seasons, posting 53 goals and 241 points to go along with a plus-142 rating. The four-year captain of the Rangers led the team for blocked shots and average time on ice during the 2017-18 season prior to being traded to Tampa Bay.

Kevin Lynch One-Year, Two-Way Contract Official

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Kevin Lynch to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Lynch, 27, skated in 57 games with the Crunch during the 2017-18 season, posting 14 goals and 26 points to go along with 48 penalty minutes. He ranked third on Syracuse for shorthanded goals with two and was tied for sixth for goals. The Grosse Point, Michigan native also appeared in seven Calder Cup Playoff games in 2018, recording two goals and five points.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound forward has played in 154 career AHL games over four seasons with the Crunch and Manitoba Moose, registering 22 goals and 37 points to go along with 88 penalty minutes. Lynch set career highs for games played, goals, assists (12), points and penalty minutes during the 2017-18 season.

Lynch was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, 56th overall, at the 2009 NHL Draft.

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