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Quick Strikes: You’re Gourde-ous, pumpkin!

Yanni Gourde signs very affordable contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning, fanbase ponders cap impact.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

All Yanni, all the time

It’s hard not to root for a guy like Yanni Gourde who played for the Kalamazoo Wings a scant number of years ago, and was even cited by our man (who used to be) in Kalamazoo, JustinG! Back in 2016, Justin wrote in an interview with the Kalamazoo front office:

It’s great to build success at an early level. If you have affiliates that win, it breeds an expectation in the players that success is the norm and they carry that throughout their development. As far as players who are pushed up the ladder, current Syracuse Crunch Yanni Gourde spent 2013-14 in Kalamazoo scoring 34 points in 30 games.

Gourde first broke into our Top 25 in 2015, prompting Syracuse Crunch editor to write of him:

5’9 left wing Yanni Gourde gets compared to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson quite a bit, due to their similar heights, playing style, and passion. This must feel like both a complement and a challenge to Gourde, who, much like Johnson, also went undrafted. After starting the 2013-2014 season bouncing between the ECHL and the AHL with the Worcester Sharks, Gourde was tasked by Tampa Bay with infusing life into a struggling Syracuse and was signed by the Lightning on March 10th, 2014.

Of course a few other news outlets wrote about our Quebecois snowbird, and the articles are below, but I’d like to say that us fans have had our eyes on him for years. Take a victory lap, fellow fans:

Lightning sign Gourde to six-year contract extension [Sportsnet]

“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.”

What Yanni Gourde’s six-year, big-money extension means for Lightning cap crunch [The Athletic, paid content]

GM Julien BriseBois admitted last month that this offseason will be a “challenging” one due to the salary-cap crunch. Tampa Bay now has $72 million committed to just 14 players next season, with All-Star center Brayden Point a restricted free agent this summer. With Point emerging as one of the league’s top-10 centers, keeping him is not going to be cheap. The cap will likely go up from this year’s $79.5 million, but by how much? Who knows?

In their own Words: Yanni Gourde on his new contract [NHL.com]

Before going to Kalamazoo, Marie and I had a talk and decided to just give it one last shot and see where it led. I’m going to be forever grateful for that last shot because from that moment I always took a step forward and every year I wanted to get more. And it happened. I’m really proud of how it happened. My story’s different from everybody else. I’m pretty proud of where I come from and how much work I put in.

Tampa Bay Lightning sign Yanni Gourde to six-year extension worth $31 million [Raw Charge]

His situation is similar to that of Jonathan Marchessault. Marchessault had two big seasons before signing a long-term contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. He put up 30 goals and 51 points for the Florida Panthers in 2016-17 and 27 goals and 75 points last season for the Vegas Golden Knights. He signed a six year contract with a cap hit of only $5 million per season.

The other Bolts

Believe it or not, there was news about other Tampa Bay Lightning stuff too, including a VERY interesting tidbit from Joe about the Bolts heading to Sweden next November. I’m going, I’ll see you there!

Mishkin’s Musings: New season, newly-found success [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Lightning’s two opponents this weekend - Montreal and Ottawa - also have exceeded expectations early this year. The Habs have 16 points in 12 games while the Sens, with 12 points, are keeping pace with the Atlantic Division pack so far. It’ll be the Lightning’s first time facing these clubs this year and it’ll be interesting to see how they both look. It may be early, but the Canadiens and Senators (along with the Canucks and Coyotes), have given their fans a lot to cheer about already this year.

Unlikely blueline heroes stepping up for Lightning in Victor Hedman’s absence [Tampa Bay Times]

“It felt good,” Koekkoek said. “I have a lot of people doubting me. A lot of people who don’t matter. It felt good for the people who do believe in me. My family, and the people who do matter.”Koekkoek was the latest unlikely hero to step up in Hedman’s absence. Defenseman Braydon Coburn did the same with two goals against New Jersey on Tuesday. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored his first goal of the season against the Devils.

Brayden Point’s power play output is weirdly bad for such a good player [Raw Charge]

So where does this leave us? Well, we confirmed that Point doesn’t produce on the power play like we’d expect based on his play at 5v5. And we ruled out the most obvious type of randomness that could be causing it. That still leaves the question of what is causing him to underperform. My somewhat educated guess is that his role on the second power play unit is not the best one for his skill set. He currently sets up the “Kucherov spot” in the right circle. This presents several problems.

From Saskatchewan to Tampa Bay: The Evolution of Slater Koekkoek [Raw Charge]

Just based on his three games, though, it doesn’t look like anything’s changed from past seasons. With Hedman out for at least a couple of more games, this is Koekkoek’s best chance to turn things around, and he’s on the right track. He scored last night following a great shift by Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph, jumping into the slot to wire home his first goal in almost a full year.

Tampa Bay Lightning ‘close’ to landing Sweden Global Series game next year [The Athletic, paid content]

NHL​ commissioner​ Gary​ Bettman announced Thursday that​ next​ season’s​ Global Series​​ will include regular season games in Stockholm and Prague. And it sounds like the Lightning could be one of the teams heading to Sweden next November.

The Prospects

Syracuse Crunch struggles to forge winning identity [Syracuse.com]

Syracuse has posted 18 goals this season, a total that includes eight on the power play and three shorthanded. So in seven games, the Crunch has managed just seven even-strength goals.

Overall, the team is short-circuiting any juice that should be flowing through its newly renovated War Memorial. Syracuse has started 0-3 at home, with home contests against Belleville tonight and Saturday.

The Game

Prospects and youngsters and Erik Karlsson, oh my.

Young Guns: theScore’s All-Under-25 Team [The Score]

As a hockey fan, few things are more fun than a roster filled with young, fast, up-and-coming players. For instance, Team North America captivated the sport’s international community at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey by giving us a taste of the future.

With that in mind, we decided to use our imagination and build a 25-man roster - 13 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders - using only the best under-25 players in the world.

2019 NHL Draft: Consolidated Industry Rankings for October 2018 [Canucks Army]

At the top of the chart, surprise surprise, is Jack Hughes. Hughes was first on all nine lists, and is generally considered to remain in the lead-off spot from start to finish this year. There are some pretty… unique takes out there, but by and large this is thought to be a one horse race.

That’s not to say that Kaapo Kakko (member of the all-time Finnish name club) isn’t making things interesting

Truth By Numbers: Is Erik Karlsson really struggling in San Jose? [Sportsnet]

The first thing I wanted to shine a spotlight on this season was Brayden Point’s five-point game against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night, which shot him up to lead the Lightning in points so far this season, an impressive feat on a team that boasts players such as Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.