The Tampa Bay Lightning has come to terms with Syracuse Crunch winger Yanni Gourde on a one-year, two-way contract.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has pretty much flown under the radar for a good portion of the off-season. With the exceptions of the Lightning re-signing team cornerstones like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Alex Killorn to long-term contracts with the team, the Lightning have made many smaller moves to help improve the future of the team and keep the fire burning in their developmental system.
On Monday morning, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President Steve Yzerman was able to add yet another piece to the puzzle when it comes to building the Lightning team of the future. Yzerman announced via the Tampa Bay Lightning’s official site the organization had come to terms with Syracuse Crunch left wing Yanni Gourde on a one-year, two-way contract. The financial details of the new contract were not released.
Much like Tyler Johnson and Martin St. Louis, Gourde went undrafted in the National Hockey League. In March of 2014, Gourde was signed to an AHL contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. That season, Gourde would play in 18 games with the Crunch, scoring two goals and six assists for a total of eight points.
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The next season, Gourde would significantly improve his stats from the previous season. In 76 games with the Crunch, Gourde brought home 29 goals and 28 assists for a total of 57 points along with a plus-13 rating.
As most Tampa Bay Lightning fans know by now, the Lightning dealt with more than their fair share of injuries last season. This opened the door for Yanni Gourde to make his NHL debut, which he did on December 15, 2015, as the Lightning took on the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his first NHL game, Gourde was able to register an assist. The Bolts would go on to win the game in overtime.
It will more than likely be another couple of seasons before Gourde will find his way onto the Tampa Bay Lightning’s main roster on a permanent basis; however, his talents will be well utilized with the Syracuse Crunch over the course of the 2016-17 season.
There are still many questions in need of answers prior to the start of the 2016-17 season. As we get closer and closer to opening day, the bigger picture will come into clearer view. Yzerman has built a reputation on putting together a strong team for now and the future. He hasn’t done us wrong yet, and we don’t expect he’ll be starting anytime soon.