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The rising stock of Alex Killorn

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Taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, Alex Killorn has been Lightning property longer than any other player currently in the organization. After spending four seasons at Harvard, his worth rises along with the value of his well-rounded game.

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Alex Killorn has proven time and again his versatility. While he was a center at the prestigious Harvard University, since turning pro he has primarily been a left winger. He has found ice time from top to bottom of the forward lines, on the power play and as a penalty killer. He's big (6'2"), he's strong, he's fearless. While not known for devastating hits, he doesn't shy away from contact often going into the corners and in front of the net to battle hard. And he's shown that he's got some nice touch on his shot too.

The playoffs proved to be a breakout party for Killorn. He played on the top line through most of the year with Steven Stamkos and had on and off success on the top line whether it was with Ryan Callahan on the right wing or Valtteri Filppula in the middle. He finished the regular season with 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 71 games played. While he fell a few points short of his career high 41 points set in 2013-14, this was only his second full season in the NHL and he improved on his points per game. He also contributed 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points in 26 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Prior to 2014-15, as a restricted free agent coming off of a 0.5 point per game NHL season, Killorn secured a $5.1 million, two year deal.

During the 2015 NHL playoffs, Killorn was often one of the top forwards for coach Jon Cooper in terms of time on ice. A lot of that had to do with him often being the player that double shifted on the third line when the team was playing with 11 forwards. His ability to play both a high skill, two-way game and a grinding, defensive role allowed Cooper to use him in that manner to match up against opponents.

Killorn is still young at only 25 years old and will be a restricted free agent again after the 2015-16 season. Another year of putting up better than 0.5 points per game could see him commanding a nice raise and another year spent next to Steven Stamkos could readily see him putting up that kind of production. It's not out of the question to see his salary rise into the $3.5 to $4 million range. Consider other forwards, some older, with similar point production as Killorn; (information from GeneralFanager.com) Chris Kunitz ($3.85m), Mike Fisher ($4.2m), Reilly Smith ($3.425m), Cam Atikinson ($3.5m).

Steve Yzerman will be left with a decision to make; pay Killorn what he's worth over a long term contract or move him for assets. There's still time to figure out if the team will be able to afford him and also if another winger like an Adam Erne or a Jonathan Marchessault may be ready to step into his role. A big year for Killorn could push his salary even higher and potentially out of Tampa Bay.