While it has been a rather slow start to the season for head coach Jon Cooper and his Tampa Bay Lightning, perhaps the opening of November sought to have some deeper meaning for the club who have a roster full of young and stacked up potential at hand, however, with the first first month of the new season officially put behind us, perhaps the team took notice in the fact of which it was about time to pick up the pace.

That being said, just a night after having fallen to the Nashville Predators on home ice by a final score of 4-1, general manager Julien BriseBois wanted to get things back on the right foot before Saturday with the signing of forward Yanni Gourde to a six-year contract extension which includes an annual average value of $5.166 million.

While a club announcement has been made since to officially confirm the transaction, Joe Smith of The Athletic Tampa Bay emerged with more details moments later, noting that the 26-year-old native of Saint-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, Quebec will receive a total base salary of roughly $31 million over the lifetime of the new deal.

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Smith would also go on to note the fact of which Gourde’s incoming contract will include a full no trade clause through the first three years while it will only be partial through the final three years.

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic Toronto was next to jump in with the breakdown of Gourde’s salary which looks as follows in the chart displayed below:

2019-2020: $6,300,000

2020-2021: $4,100,000

2021-2022: $6,300,000

2022-2023: $4,100,000

2023-2024: $5,100,000

2024-2025: $5,100,000

Gourde’s new deal will kick in at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, keeping him locked in with Tampa Bay on a long-term contract as opposed to becoming a UFA at the conclusion of the regular season as he was scheduled to become without an agreement put in place between the two sides.

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As noted by TSN, with this deal now put in the books for the foreseeable future, Gourde becomes the eighth member of the Lightning signed through at least 2021-22 while it is also worth noting that his contract will carry the sixth-highest cap hit on the team next season.

TSN also notes the fact of which with Gourde extended, the Lightning currently have no forwards on their 23-man roster scheduled for free agency in July. May it be mentioned however that Tampa Bay does have four defensemen slated for UFA status in Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi and Cameron Gaunce. On the other hand, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh are signed long-term on the blueline, while Mikhail Sergachev’s entry-level deal runs through to the conclusion of next season.

Unlike many others, Gourde went undrafted to begin his NHL career, and so instead, he would end up spending the 2013-14 season playing in the ECHL before later going on to make his NHL debut with Tampa Bay at the start of the 2015-2016 season.

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The experiment however wouldn’t end up lasting as Gourde only appeared in a total of 22 NHL games before finally taking part in his first full campaign with the team in 2017-2018. Taking a look at his breakout performance for the season, Gourde scored a total of 25 goals to go alongside 39 assists, making for 64 points in total of 82 games played. This ranked him third in NHL rookie scoring while he also added 50 penalty minutes to his resume.

As for his performance to this point in the new season, Gourde has recorded four goals to go alongside 8 assists, making for 12 points registered through a total of 12 games played. He also adds 7 penalty minutes to his resume.

Now looking at the entirety of his NHL career as a whole, Gourde has scored 35 goals to go alongside 50 assists, making for 85 points registered through a total of 116 games played. He adds 67 penalty minutes to his resume.

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In a statement from vice president and general manager Julie BriseBois, he said, “We are very pleased to have Yanni as a part of the Lightning organization for the foreseeable future. Yanni personifies our team’s identity with his speed and relentlessness on the ice and his strong character off of it. He is proof of how far hard work and dedication can take you, and we look forward to him continuing his career in Tampa Bay.”

In closing, BriseBois would go on to say he’s very “comfortable” and “happy” with Yanni Gourde, pointing out how it gives them more “cost certainty” heading into a challenging summer ahead. He also mentioned the fact of which they still plan to wait until the offseason before pursuing any negotiations with RFA centerman Brayden Point.

Some might see this signing as risky from a salary cap standpoint, however, it might just be the one that stands by example before they do the same with Brayden Point. The Toronto Maple Leafs did something similar during the offseason with the signing of UFA John Tavares, born and raised in Mississauga.

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As noted by Joe Smith of The Athletic Tampa Bay, Gourde’s deal is similar to that of the five-year deal in which J.T. Miller signed last summer while it is also one million more than Jonathan Marchessault got last January, signing on for six year and at a total of $30 million.

That all to be said, this contract agreement might just be the perfect opportunity to further grow his family in Tampa Bay as his wife Marie gave birth to their first child, Emma, back in April.

At this point in time, Gourde is coming off of his current two-year contract where he is due to earn a salary of $2 million upon it’s completion.

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According to Brandon Share-Cohen of The Hockey Writers, Gourde is currently producing at a point-per-game pace, ultimately solidifying himself while in a top six-role with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As noted by Colton Osmond of Last Word On Sports, Gourde has been a pleasant surprise for the Lightning since entering the NHL and helps to fill out the entirety of a very dominant second line for Tampa Bay. Further to that point, it is well worth knowing that alongside him, both Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson are also scoring at, or if not, are close to a point per game pace. That being said, with Gourde now locked up to the Lightning long-term, the club no longer has any forwards on their current roster with UFA status upcoming in July. They also have all their core forwards now locked up long-term outside of Brayden Point.

With that in mind, this transaction just helps to further fortify the roster that will assist the organization take another step in the right direction as they look to get back into Stanley Cup contention in the years that are soon to follow in the coming future ahead.

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With Gourde’s contract now the latest out of the club’s way, Tampa Bay is left with the simple task of locking up some of their defence as they have four set to become UFA’s at the end of the regular season. This of course matches in well with Brayden Point as the team attempts to set their attention elsewhere, shining the light upon that of Calgary native.

Further to this point in similarity of relation, with his entry-level contract set to come to a close at the conclusion of the regular season, perhaps a handful of extensions still remain in the books to complete and to fulfill in order to assure a locker room full of keepers for head coach Jon Cooper to have it out for.

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