Alex Killorn and the Lightning wanted to keep the team together, and Tampa Bay made sure he’d be part of its long-term future.
The Lightning on Sunday signed Killorn to a $31.15 million, seven-year contract to avoid arbitration and lock up another important player.
Earlier this offseason, Tampa Bay signed captain Steven Stamkos for eight years and $68 million, defenseman Victor Hedman for eight years and $63 million and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for three years and $10.5 million.
After a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference final in 2016, Killorn saw the Stamkos contract and the potential for more postseason success and wanted keep the trend going.
“When you have your captain, the leader of your team, taking a pretty substantial discount, I think that sets a precedent for everyone else,” Killorn said by phone. “For me it wasn’t just about money. I think the contract was a great contract, but living in Florida, playing on a team that has a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup every year is important.”
Killorn, who turns 27 in September, will count $4.45 million against the salary cap through the 2022-23 season.
He has 53 goals and 85 assists for 138 points in 272 regular-season NHL games. In 47 Stanley Cup playoff games, he has 15 goals and 18 assists.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia, native’s 33 playoff points are the fourth-most among Canadian-born players over the past three years. That total trails only Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate because when you play on a team that does so well, obviously you’re going to be put in those situations,” Killorn said. “I think playoff hockey kind of suits my style.”
Winning in the playoffs is what it’s all about for the Lightning, who needed to keep Killorn’s cap hit manageable with three other restricted free agents who need contracts: forwards Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Nikita Nesterov.
General manager Steve Yzerman said recently that negotiations with Kucherov’s camp are ongoing, and Namestnikov’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for July 29.
If Yzerman can get the other deals done while navigating the salary cap, the Lightning should be one of the favorites to win the Cup next season and for several more years after that.
“There’s obviously still a couple guys that need to be signed, but it seems like most guys want to be here and want to be a part of this,” Killorn said. “Everyone really believes in the management and what they’re doing, so we’re just excited for the future.”
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