Lightning Receiving Another Underrated Season From Killorn

It’s often forgotten just how long Alex Killorn has been a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. While everyone knows that he is a Harvard Graduate, it’s hard to remember that he was selected 77th overall in the 2007 Draft. For reference, Steven Stamkos was selected first overall in 2008 and Victor Hedman was taken second overall in 2009.

Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn has been a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise since he was drafted in 2007, and he has experienced unprecedented success during his time with the organization. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Since he was drafted, Killorn has done just about everything you could hope for in a hockey career. First, he played four seasons with Harvard, eventually earning a role as alternate captain of the team. Following that, he joined the then Lightning American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, for their record-setting run to the 2012 Calder Trophy. In 2012-13, he got his first taste of NHL ice-time with a floundering Lightning squad before taking over a full-time role in 2013-14.

Once he earned that place in the starting lineup, Killorn would never let it go. Outside a few relatively minor injuries, he has been one of the most consistent starters for Tampa Bay, as he took the ice for almost every game since 2013. During that time, he became a franchise face who is in the Lightning’s top ten for goalscoring and points in both the regular and postseason.

Killorn’s Shaking off Prior Inconsistency to Become a Lightning Leader

Despite this, leading up to the 2019-20 season, many believed Killorn was being overpaid for far too long after he signed a seven-year, $4.45 million contract in 2016. Simply put, he was often inconsistent on the ice, as he would put up points in bunches, but then got weeks without scoring or contributing anything meaningful to the stat sheet.

Related: Lightning Reaching a Crossroads With Franchise Face

That changed in 2019-20, however, as Killorn put together his most consistent scoring yet, and was on pace to break 30 goals and 60 points for the first time in his career. This scoring pace continued in 2020-21, as he posted 15 goals and 33 points in just 56 games.

Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning
While Killorn may not be a superstar for the Lightning, he’s the kind of player that makes your team better just by his smart play and presence on the ice. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While the 2021-22 season hasn’t been as explosive for Killorn, he’s still putting together consistently great scoring. With 25 goals and 58 points, he’s still on pace to break his career-high in goals and points while contributing meaningful playing time on both the penalty kill and the powerplay.

Killorn’s Value Is Irreplaceable to the Lightning

When you consider his cap hit, Killorn may be one of the best values for the Lightning, which was inconceivable just a few seasons ago. The franchise is getting far more than his $4.45 million in production and will lean heavily on him going forward as they prepare to defend their Stanley Cup Championship.

That’s a far stretch from the 2019 offseason when many (myself included) had him pegged as one of the worst contracts for the team. However, his progression is just another reminder that players won’t stop developing just because they are no longer considered a prospect. Killorn took those steps needed to round out his game, and in turn, became one of the most important players for the Lightning.

Related: Vinny Lecavalier’s Legacy with the Lightning

Looking forward, Killorn still has one more year left on his deal, meaning the franchise can put off the difficult question of whether to re-sign or let him walk in free agency until the summer of 2023. Given his place with the franchise both on the ice and off it, the Lightning would do well to keep him in Tampa Bay, but that will be a conversation for another time down the road.

For now, let’s just remember to appreciate Killorn and everything he has done for the Lightning over the years. He may not be a superstar, but his personality and play have been key building blocks for the franchise as they became championship contenders and eventually winners over the last decade.

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