The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Yanni Gourde to a major six-year contract extension worth $31 million, per Joe Smith of The Athletic.
BREAKING: #TBLightning re-signs Yanni Gourde to six year extension with $5.166 million AAV. Full no trade first three years, partial final three. Was set to be UFA next summer. What this means for Lightning cap crunch https://t.co/w9bbwJK5WU— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) November 2, 2018
Gourde is coming off a career year for the Lightning, in which he scored 25 goals and 64 points. The 26-year-old signed as an undrafted free agent with the Lightning in 2014, becoming one of hockey's most pleasant surprises and a great underdog story.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound winger is off to another solid start in 2018-19, with four goals and eight assists in 12 games. Gourde was in the final year of his contract and set to enter the free agent market.
It's a significant raise for Gourde, and it'll be interesting to see how the Lightning go about making cap space in the near future. Nikita Kucherov's monster contract extension kicks in next year, as he'll go from a cap hit of approx. $4.766 million to $9.5 million next season, per CapFriendly.com.
Gourde will be the eighth Lightning forward next season to carry a cap hit of over $4.5 million, but they will have money coming off the books this year.
Defencemen Anton Stralman ($4.5 million), Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million), and Dan Girardi ($3 million), have their deals coming off the books this season. It'll be extremely difficult for Tampa to keep more than one of those blueliners after this year, though.
But for now, the main story here is that the Lightning managed to retain one of their key forwards for the long-term, ensuring the Stanley Cup window stays open longer. The Lightning have been among top teams over the last five years, having reached three Eastern Conference Finals in the last four seasons.
Gourde was a key part of the Lightning team that only missed the Stanley Cup Final by one game last year. Now, they have him locked up for six more seasons.