The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the signing of defenseman Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way contract. Gaunce set AHL career highs with ten goals, 36 assists, and 46 points. He was a leader for the Syracuse Crunch wearing an A as an Alternate Captain throughout the season. He was also given ample power play time which contributed to his on-ice offensive stats. He also appeared in two games for the Tampa Bay Lightning without recording a point. Gaunce has played in a total of 34 NHL games in his career.
While salary details have not been made public yet, it’s fair to assume that it’s a pretty similar contract he signed last year. Last year’s deal paid him the league minimum of $650,000 when he was in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL with a guaranteed minimum salary of $325,000.
His contract the year previous with the Columbus Blue Jackets was the same, except with a $300,000 minors salary and a guarantee of $350,000. The NHL minimum salary this season goes up to $700,000 so that is likely to be his new NHL salary, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the minors and guaranteed salary end up being similar to last season.
The re-signing of Gaunce is great news for Syracuse Crunch fans after seeing the departures today of Eddie Pasquale and Michael Bournival. Gaunce was as steady as they come for the Crunch providing leadership and mentorship to the younger defensemen on the roster. He is perfectly suited to be the 8th defenseman in the Lightning organization as someone that can fill-in for injuries in the NHL while being a top pairing AHL defenseman.
There is a possibility he could end up as the 7th defenseman in the NHL for the Lightning depending on other moves they make over the summer. The fact that he was given a two-way contract makes me believe the team expects him in Syracuse.
There is still a lot of work left to be done by the Lightning over the summer to address the blue line. Only five NHL level defensemen are under contract. Cal Foote, Matthew Spencer, and Oleg Sosunov join Gaunce as the only defensemen under contract that are likely to be in the AHL. Ben Thomas and Dominik Masin are restricted free agents and are expected to be signed. Daniel Walcott remains as an unrestricted free agent.
Besides the two more NHL defensemen the Lightning need, they will need to sign at least a couple more AHL defensemen. Radim Salda was a possible prospect addition, but he is listed on the roster for HK Hradec Kralove in the Czech Republic and it appears he will play the 2019-20 season there. The Lightning retain control of his rights through the end of this coming season.