The Lightning have signed forward Alex Killorn to a seven-year contract at an average annual value of $4.45M. The contract includes a no-movement clause that begins following the 2016-17 season. Killorn was a key member of the Lightning's top line along with Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan during the teams run to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. Last season, Killorn split time playing on the first and second lines.
Killorn tied for fourth on the team in points last season with 40, which matched the total of Ondrej Palat. He was seventh in primary points per 60 minutes of ice time. Over the last two seasons, Killorn has played the most minutes with Stamkos of any Lightning player. With both players being 26 years old and recently signing long term contracts, they could be positioned to help anchor the Lightning into the future.
Killorn was drafted 77th overall in the third round in 2007 and eventually played for Lightning head coach Jon Cooper in the AHL in 2012. He made the move to the NHL during the lockout-shortened 2013 season and played his first full season in 2013-2014. In his first three seasons, Killorn has scored consistently in the 40 point range. From a statistical perspective, he rates as a high end second line winger or possibly even a low end first liner. However, his all around game including his impact defensively makes him a favorite of head coach Jon Cooper. Among the Lightning's top six forwards, he had the second best impact on his teammates' possession statistics after Nikita Kucherov.
The Killorn signing leaves four remaining restricted free agents for the Lightning: Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Nesterov and Yanni Gourde. Namestnikov has filed for arbitration and his hearing is set for July 29th. With a little over $8.5MM in cap room, the Lightning do have room to sign their remaining players. However, the team also still has the option of utilizing their secondary buyout window on a player like Valterri Filppula to create more flexibility. One other note to keep in mind is that Killorn's no movement clause will not go into effect for this season meaning that he could be exposed in the expansion draft next summer.
With so much young talent, the question facing the Bolts over the last year as well as going forward is whether they can successfully navigate the cap to keep the team together. Thus far, General Manager Steve Yzerman has managed to do so. If he can sign Kucherov and Namestnikov, he will have made it through another summer and kept the team in position to challenge in the east again next year.