3. Lightning re-sign Sergachev, Cirelli, Cernak to 8 year contracts
At the start of the 2022 free agency frenzy, fans had already seen players leave the team, including top six defender Jan Rutta, who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a 3yr x $2.75m contract, and long time fan favorite Ondrej Palat, who signed a well deserved 5yr x $6m contract with the New Jersey Devils.
While losing Rutta wasn’t a huge loss, losing Palat was. Palat was a key player in the 2022 playoffs, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals where he scored an amazing last minute goal in game 3 to not only seal the victory for the Lightning, but to seal an amazing four game winning streak to lead the Lightning to their third straight final appearance. Before free agency, the Lightning had also traded away Ryan McDonagh to the Predators for Philippe Myers and Grant Mismash.
Due to the losses of these players, Lightning fans were concerned about what the future would hold as players like Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak were on expiring contracts. Those fears were swept away by long term deals for all three players, with Sergachev earning $8.5m annually, Cirelli earning $6.25m annually, and Cernak earning $5.2m annually. While we still wait for contracts for key guys like Ross Colton, Nick Perbix and Alex Killorn, it’s still a sigh of relief knowing that these three key players were re-signed, and it’s the reason why we think it makes the top three of the best Lightning moments from 2022.