Lightning Lock Up Point With Bridge Deal

The 2019 offseason is going to be remembered for its very talented class of restricted free agents and how long it took them to get new contracts. With just over a week until the start of the NHL’s regular season there are still quite a few big names without a deal. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning no longer have worry about contract negotiations and can now put all their focus on the 2019-20 season.

Lightning Get a Bargain with Point’s New Deal

The Lightning has finally reached an agreement with center Brayden Point. The day started with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reporting that both sides were getting close to an agreement. Less than an hour later, Eric Francis of Sportsnet broke the news that Point has signed a three-year contract worth $6.75 million per season.

“We are very pleased to re-sign Brayden today,” general manager Julien BriseBois said in an official statement. “He is the consummate professional with an unwavering commitment to team success, growing as a player and improving every day. It is that mindset that makes him an outstanding role model, teammate and person, on and off the ice. We look forward to getting Brayden back on the ice with his Lightning teammates as soon as possible.”

This deal is an absolute bargain for the Lightning based on the production Point has put up during his young NHL career.  The 23-year-old center is coming off a season in which he scored 41 goals and 92 points in 79 games. Overall, Point has 91 goals and 198 points in 229 games for the Lightning. Not bad for a kid drafted in the third round (79th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

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The Lightning has an advantage over many other teams in the NHL as Florida does not have a state income tax. Therefore, they can offer slightly lower money than other teams because the player gets to pocket more of his paycheck than he would if he were playing for the Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins.

This bridge deal pays Point very well over the next three seasons and gives him time to keep adding to his already impressive resume. He will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2021-22 season and will have a chance for an even bigger payday at the age of 26.

Lightning are Still the Team to Beat

The Lightning had a historic regular season in 2018-19. They cruised to the Presidents’ Trophy with 62 wins and 128 points. They led the league with 319 goals scored; 30 more than the Calgary Flames who finished second with 289 goals.

Unfortunately, they made history again by getting swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The high-powered Tampa Bay offense was outscored 19-8 over the four games. Point had just one goal and was a minus-5 during the disappointing playoff series.

The Lightning are stacked and will be one of the teams to beat for the 2020 Stanley Cup. The embarrassment of how their season ended last spring should serve as motivation starting next week.

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Tampa Bay has their core locked up for years to come. Point, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy are all signed for at least the next three seasons.

There might be some urgency for the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup this season as this is the final year of Vasilevskiy’s current contract. His new monster deal goes into effect next season and his salary cap hit will jump for $3.5 to $9.5 million. The additional $6 million added to the books will likely force the Lightning into trading one of their core players to get back under the salary cap.

That will be a discussion for another day. Right now, the other 30 teams in the NHL need to be concerned about what the Lightning might have in store for them this season.