Lightning Retro Profiles is a series of profiles on former Lightning players. Some are well known to fans even today, some not so much. These Retro Profiles will highlight some of the names from the Lightning’s past. What kind of player they were, what they did with the Lightning, and their contributions to where the team is today.
For today’s Retro Profile, we’re not going back quite as far into Tampa Bay Lightning history. We’re going back just over a decade to a great player that only played in one season for the Lightning; Simon Gagne.
Before the Lightning
A native of Quebec, Gagne started his junior career in the QMJHL with the Beauport Harfangs in 1996-97. He recorded nine goals and 31 points in a solid rookie season. For his follow-up draft season, Gagne went to the Quebec Remparts and posted 30 goals and 69 points in 53 games, plus 11 goals and 16 points in 12 playoff games solidifying him as a top prospect coming out of the QMJHL.
Before we even get to the draft though, Gagne was tangentially involved in a big Lightning trade. The Philadelphia Flyers signed Chris Gratton as a Group II free agent, which entitled the Lightning to the Flyers next four first round picks. Except the two teams had made an agreement before hand to trade back those picks for Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis. The first of the four picks was used in the first round, 22nd overall by the Flyers in 1998 to select Simon Gagne.
Gagne spent another season in the QMJHL and racked up some truly impressive offensively numbers record 50 goals and 120 points in 61 games. He was also named to Canada’s U20 World Junior Championship game, scoring seven goals and eight points in seven games on the way to a Silver Medal.
Gagne made the jump to the Flyers line-up in 1999-00 as a 19 year old, recording 20 goals and 48 points. During the initial part of his career, Gagne was a consistent 20-30 goal scorer, except in 2002-03 when he only recorded nine goals and played in just 46 games. He was good enough though to earn a Olympic roster spot with Team Canada in 2002 and recorded a goal and four points in six games winning an Olympic Gold Medal.
From there, Gagne grew into a top line scoring threat after the 2004-05 lockout posting 47 and 41 goal seasons with 79 and 68 points. He missed much of the 2007-08 season only playing in 25 games, but returned to form in 2008-09 with 34 goals and 74 points in 79 games, setting a career high with 40 assists. The 2009-10 season also saw Gagne miss some time as he recorded 17 goals and 40 points in 58 games for the Flyers.
With the Lightning
With one-year remaining on his five-year contract he had signed with the Flyers, the Flyers decided to move on from Gagne before the 2010-11 season. New Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman decided to bring him in as a veteran that could lend a helping hand to Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier in the scoring department. The cost for Gagne was Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth round pick, Walker was a third pairing defenseman and depth piece that didn’t hurt for the Lightning to move and the fourth round pick was a light price to pay for a player of Gagne’s caliber. The Flyers were looking to dump his $5.25 million salary though, which accounts for the discounted price to the Lightning.
Gagne jumped into the Lightning line-up in 2010-11 with 17 goals and 40 points in 63 games. Seven goals and 15 of his points came on the power play. Gagne spent most of his time on the wing of Lecavalier while also having Teddy Purcell on the other side of the line. He was also a member of the first power play unit, providing some extra punch to Stamkos, St. Louis, Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone up front.
His 17 goals were tied for fifth on the team and 40 points put him 5th in scoring. With the Lightning finding their way into the playoffs and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, Gagne contributed five goals and 12 points to the playoff run, good for 6th in both categories on the team.
After the Lightning
With his contract expired, Gagne signed with the Los Angeles Kings for the 2011-12 season. He only played in 34 games registering seven goals and 17 points. He was injured in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes the day after Christmas and didn’t return to the line-up until the playoffs. In the playoffs, he only played in four games, the last four games of the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils. He didn’t record a point, but he did get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Gagne returned to the Kings for the start of the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, recording just five assists in 11 games before being traded back to the Philadelphia Flyers for a conditional pick that ended up being in the fourth round as the Flyers missed the 2013 playoffs. In his second stint with the Flyers, he recorded five goals and 11 points in 27 games.
He became an unrestricted free agent and did not play in the 2013-14 season. However, he did go to training camp with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout for the 2014-15 season and earned a one-year contract. In 23 games, he recorded three goals and four points. The Bruins waived him at the end of January and he subsequently retired.
Gagne finished his NHL career with 291 goals, 310 assists, and 601 points in 822 games. In 109 playoff games, he recorded 37 goals and 59 points and won a Stanley Cup. In international play, Gagne won an Olympic Gold Medal, World Cup Gold Medal, U20 WJC Silver Medal, and World Championship Silver Medal. If Gagne had been able to win a Gold Medal in the World Championships, which he only participated in once in 2005, he would have been a member of the Triple Gold Club.