Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois just continues to get the job done.
A few weeks removed from his team’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance, the League’s top executive continues to prove that building a championship team is no minor task.
After signing Jeff Blashill as an assistant coach to add to Jon Cooper’s staff on Tuesday, the Lightning announced the addition of two players via free agency on Wednesday morning, before dropping the hammer on three more long-term extensions shortly thereafter.
Early on in the free agent signing period, the Bolts announced the contract of defenceman Ian Cole. The 33-year-old signed on for just one year at a $3 million paycheque. He scored twice and added 17 assists in 75 games for Carolina last season, while adding a goal and an assist in 14 postseason games for the Canes.
Cole has 29 goals, 165 points and a plus-131 rating through his 12 seasons of NHL play. He’s been in the postseason nine times, or 75 percent of his years in the Show.
Then, just a half hour later, the team agreed to terms with former first round draft pick Vladislav Namestnikov on another one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Selected 27th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Namestnikov has played in 553 games between the Lightning, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, to which he has put up 107 goals and 236 points. 17 of his goals have come on the power play, while 13 were game-winners.
Having left Tampa in 2018, Namestnikov has seen the team win back-to-back Stanley Cups before falling in the Final this past spring. He will return to the team to which he has found the most success in his NHL career.
And as if things couldn’t get any better for BriseBois and Co., the Lightning then announced eight-year contract extensions for blossoming, young defenceman Mikhail Sergachev, forward Anthony Cirelli, and shutdown blueliner Erik Cernak.
With the contracts set to begin for 2023-24, the Bolts will have considerable cap tied up in just a minimal number of players after this coming season runs out. According to CapFriendly, nearly $80 million will be spent on just 14 players. Sounds some some very difficult decisions for BriseBois in the near future. But for now, it’s back to business. And that’s the business of winning.
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