In this edition of Tampa Bay Lightning News & Rumors, we’ll discuss free agency, the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the 2021 NHL Prospect Showcase, and more. We did not publish an article for this column last week, so we have some catching up to do. Let’s dive in!
“The Boss” Is Back
On Aug. 9, the Lightning signed Ross Colton to a two-year deal worth $1.125 average annual value (AAV). The 24-year-old forward tallied 13 goals and five assists in 53 total games during the 2020-21 season.
Colton made quite a splash in his rookie season. On Feb. 24, he scored in his debut game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Moreover, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick led the league among rookies in game-winning goals, with four. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. With so many changes to their forward group this offseason, the signing of Colton is critically important to the Lightning’s depth moving forward.
Cooper to Coach Team Canada
Hockey Canada announced that Lightning head coach Jon Cooper will be the head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The assistant coaches will include Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer, and New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. When speaking about his appointment, Cooper said,
“It is an honour to be entrusted with leading Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team next year in Beijing, and to be able to carry on the rich tradition of hockey excellence that is associated with Hockey Canada. The opportunity to work with an excellent management group and an elite-level coaching staff of Barry, Bruce and Peter is a great privilege. I have many fond memories of the Olympics, from watching games as a young kid to thrilling gold medal victories, and I look forward to helping create lasting memories for Canadians across the country while our team competes for a gold medal.”-Jon Cooper
Cooper brings with him invaluable experience at hockey’s highest level and a winning pedigree. In addition to leading the Lightning to two straight Stanley Cup Championships, he is the NHL’s longest-tenured head coach, entering his ninth full season. This will not be his first time coaching Team Canada either, after leading them to a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Going for gold medal glory is still up in the air for NHL players and staff, though. Although the NHL left room for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in its 2021-22 schedule, they have not indicated whether or not they will allow players to participate.
Stanley Cup Delicacies
There is certainly no shortage of stories about what has been consumed from the Stanley Cup in its history. Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph and Seattle Kraken forward Yanni Gourde are the latest players to use the Cup to enjoy some of their favorite foods. Joseph went for a Canadian classic, poutine. For those unfamiliar, the delicacy is made up of a tantalizing combination of brown gravy, cheese curds, and french fries.
A few days later, Gourde took the Cup to his hometown, where he indulged in maple taffy.
Gourde’s day with the Stanley Cup signals that his tenure with the Lightning is officially over. When speaking about Tampa, Gourde said,
“It’s hard to leave Tampa because we were all so close to each other, both the players and the organization. But I’m so excited about the opportunity to join an organization that’s starting from the ground up.”– Yanni Gourde
Gourde, who tallied 187 points in 310 regular-season games for the Lightning, was selected by the Kraken during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. He was well-loved in the Tampa Bay community and Seattle is fortunate to have him in their organization. He is expected to miss the first two months of the season after having shoulder surgery this offseason.
On Wednesday, the Lightning announced their roster and the schedule for the 2021 NHL Prospect Showcase. The event will take place at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Florida, from Sept. 18 to Sept. 21. The Showcase will include the Lightning’s in-state rival Florida Panthers, the Hurricanes, and the Nashville Predators. Each team will play each other once.
The Lightning’s roster will feature several players who have spent time with their American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse Crunch, including Gabriel Fortier, Jack Finley, and Gage Goncalves. The roster also includes three of the organization’s newest faces, Roman Schmidt, Cameron MacDonald, and Niko Huuhtanen, who are members of the 2021 NHL Draft class. The Lightning will begin the Showcase by taking on the Predators on Sept. 18 at 1 P.M.
Around the League
- The NHL will reportedly increase the salary cap by $1 million for the 2022-23 season, raising it to $82.5 million. This would be the first salary cap increase since it rose to $81.5 million ahead of the 2019-20 season.
- On August 10, Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito died at the age of 78. He was the younger brother of Phil Esposito, the founder of the Lightning.
- The NHL has approved jersey ads, in the form of a three inch by three and a half inch patch, for the 2022-23 season.
Andrew is a freelance writer who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Writers. He is a passionate hockey fan who grew up near Tampa, Florida. He is a husband, father to a Golden Retriever, and is studying to be a Physician Assistant. Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Mulville