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Lightning Round: Zack Kassian gets a new contract with an assist from Connor McDavid

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Stars get their teammates paid.

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers announced a four year contract extension for winger Zack Kassian at $3.2 million per season. Kassian just turned 29 meaning the contract will carry him through age 33. His previous contract paid him a little under $2 million per year over three seasons meaning he’s in for a big raise as he enters his thirties. That’s not usually a recipe for a good contract from a team perspective.

But from Kassian’s perspective, this is a great deal. And he has Connor McDavid to thank. He’s played a ton of minutes this year with one of the best players in the world and as expected, he’s had the best season of his career because of it. He’s already one point away from tying his career high. His play driving metrics look better than they ever have. He’s parlayed forty games of riding shotgun with McDavid into a sweet contract that will likely carry him all the way to retirement.

From Edmonton’s perspective, this isn’t an egregious overpay. Last summer, Evolving Hockey projected Kassian to get a three year deal worth $2.5 million. So this isn’t a Milan Lucic situation. The McDavid bump here is about 700k per year and an extra season of term. For Oilers fans, this should be far down the list of concerns.

But for McDavid, this is another indication of how great he is. The very best players in the NHL not only earn contracts for themselves, but they get their teammates paid. Sidney Crosby has been doing this for years. I’m sure Chris Kunitz never forgets the Crosbies during holiday card season.

Heck, we’ve seen it here in Tampa. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are both good players but if not for the time they spent with Nikita Kucherov early in their careers, they’d probably both be in a different financial situation.

You won’t catch me begrudging players for signing above market deals. Kudos to Kassian for making the most of his minutes with McDavid and kudos to his agent for not even waiting until the end of the season to lock in this deal. But whatever the most expensive thing on the Edible Arrangements website is, that’s what they should be sending McDavid tomorrow.

Lightning Org News

The Lightning took both points in the first game of their annual California road trip. They started slow against the Kings last night allowing two goals in the first period but came back to win 4-2 in regulation.

Steven Stamkos scored twice, and could’ve had three, including the game-tying goal on the power play after he, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman combined for 12 shot attempts in that one power play shift alone. Tyler Johnson scored the first goal of the game to begin the comeback in the second, while Erik Cernak potted the game-winning goal early in the third period.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be very good in the first period just to keep the Lightning in the game, making some 10-bell saves in the second period that sparked the comeback. He finished the night 32 saves on 34 shots, a .941 save percentage and his 25th win of the season.

The Bolts are off today before playing heading up the interstate from Los Angeles to Anaheim to face the Ducks.

Other Hockey News

Alex Ovechkin continues his march toward 700 goals, an absurd number considering the ere in which he’s played, as he officially passed Steve Yzerman for 9th all time with number 693. RMNB has all the details.

The Sabres literally added insult to injury as the team announced that goalie Linus Ullmark will be out 3-4 weeks after suffering an injury during an embarrassing loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Not only did the Buffalo Sabres lose the game last night to the Ottawa Senators, but they lost their starting goaltender in the process. Linus Ullmark fell awkwardly in the third period and needed help from his teammates to get off the ice.

This morning, the Sabres announced that the Swedish goaltender will be out three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. All things considered, that timeline is not as bad as it initially looked when he went down.

For Buffalo fans, this is just another kick to the crotch in a season full of egregious crotch shots. Jason Botteril was supposed to be the mind behind the Penguins success. Instead, he’s got the Sabres spinning the wheels and looking no different than they have during any other part of this extended stretch of futility. With just a 4% chance of making the playoffs according to HockeyViz, they are likely in for another deadline of selling off expiring contracts in the hopes of retooling for a run next year, which will inevitably go just as bad as every other season in their recent history.