Late Friday afternoon the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they had re-signed Syracuse Crunch forward Daniel Walcott to a one-year, two-way contract. The 26-year-old forward was finally enjoying a healthy season following a couple of seasons interrupted by shoulder injuries. In 55 games with the Lightning’s AHL-affiliate Walcott recorded a career high 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists).
In 240 career AHL games (all but one with the Crunch) the former 5th-round pick by the New York Rangers has 63 points (18 goals, 45 assists) and 288 penalty minutes. The Lightning acquired him in 2015 in exchange for a seventh round pick (a conditional pick that was originally part of the Martin St. Louis trade). He began his career as a defenseman, but transitioned to forward a few seasons ago. A pesky, hard-working forward, he excels at creating chaos on the forecheck and generally annoying the other teams.
He’s seen his role increase on the team as the year’s have progressed. For the first time in his career he’s had some time on the power play. While he’s never going to rack up a plethora of goals, his shot has improved a lot this year.
He has emerged as a leader on the team over the last couple of seasons, to the point where he was Raw Charge’s pick to be captain this year (a honor that was bestowed on Luke Witkowski). Still, Walcott is part of the leadership team that Coach Ben Groulx relies on to help communicate with the younger players on the team.
Not only is he one of the more popular players in the clubhouse, he has become a fixture in the Syracuse community as well. He is the Crunch’s 2019-20 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year which recognizes his charitable work in the community.
Walcott was set to be a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer so signing him now helps eliminate at least one question for the Crunch heading into next season. With the rumored departure of Cory Conacher and the usual roster churn AHL teams experience, it’s nice to have a little bit of stability among veteran forwards. He will most likely be in the running to assume the “C” if Witkowski doesn’t finish out the second year of his contract for some reason.
The Quebec native was on a one year, two-way ($700,000/$125,000) contract last season. While financial details weren’t available for his new contract at the time of publication it will probably be in the same range, with perhaps a bump in the AHL portion of the salary.
The Lightning roster continues to be well-stocked in the forward department so it’s hard to envision Walcott cracking the roster next season unless something drastic happens, but his leadership skills in Syracuse more than justifies the cost of the contract.