Normally, we would have run this when he was acquired at the deadline, but it was a move that we weren’t sure how long he would last. Would general manager Julien BriseBois send him down to Syracuse or possibly waive him and release him to create even more cap room at the deadline? Now that it looks like Michael Eyssimont is here to stay for the rest of this season (and possibly longer) let’s take a look at the newest member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks for Vladislav Namestnikov, Michael Eyssimont is a 26-year-old forward from Littleton, Colorado. He was drafted in the fifth-round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Los Angeles Kings while he was attending St. Cloud State. After his college career he signed a two-year entry level contract with the Kings and joined their AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. He would play three total seasons for the Reign and record 31 goals and 34 assists in 159 career games. While he was occasionally on the Kings taxi squad he never suited up for them in a game.
In the summer of 2021, he signed as a free agent with the Winnipeg Jets. While he spent most of the season with the Manitoba Moose (where he put up 18 goals and 24 assists in 58 games) he would make his NHL debut with the Jets in 2021-22, playing in one game. This season saw him play in 19 games for the Jets (1 goal, 4 assists) before being placed on waivers on January 5th. San Jose claimed him and he’s performed well for them with 3 goals and 5 assists in 20 games playing mostly with Logan Couture and Alexander Barabanov.
While 20 games is still a relatively small sample size, his possession numbers are intriguing.
Michael Eyssimont, acquired by TB, yo what pic.twitter.com/i9NqtKehm5— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 2, 2023
Evolving Hockey has him at 1.54 iXG/60 so he’s generating scoring opportunities and also with 2.97 takeaways per 60 minutes of play. That sounds like the type of player that general manager Julien BriseBois had in mind when talking about making the Lightning tougher to play against.
The big question is if he’s going to get that opportunity to do it this year. There is a chance that, barring injury, he will spend the bulk of his time in the press box. In a sense, he will be a cheaper healthy scratch than Namestnikov would have been. So far has played in two games for the Lightning [this was written prior to Tuesday’s match with the Flyers] without recording a point. He does have 2 shots on goal off of 9 shot attempts and has spent two minutes in the penalty box while throwing 6 hits.
He was brought in to add some depth to the bottom six and provide a physical presence for the playoffs this season. Could he find himself with the Lightning on a longer term basis? While he was listed as a restricted free agent when the trade was made, it appears that he will be what is known as a Group VI unrestricted free agent this summer. He is 25, he’s been in a professional league for 3 seasons, and he’s played fewer than 80 NHL games.
Still, it sounds like the Lightning are keen on keeping him around and even as a UFA he wouldn’t command too large of a salary to re-sign. He could be a cheaper option to fill out the bottom six that is likely to see the departures of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Corey Perry.
What other sites have said about Mikey Eyssimont:
Draft Profile: SBNation College Hockey
Many of Eyssimont’s goals this year came on easy put-backs right at the door step of the goal. But to dismiss them as easy goals would be to miss all the work Eyssimont does getting into the right spot, getting there at the right time, and gaining position and leverage on bigger defenders. That’s no simple thing and shows his ability to think the game.
Top 25 Under 25 (2019): Jewels From the Crown
He was their #24 ranked prospect under 25 that year:
The bottom six might not be the worst spot for him on an NHL team, as though he has hands that are capable of magic..... he’s generally made his bacon near the front of the net. Next season, though, he’ll hope for more diverse on-ice opportunities with Ontario.
San Jose Sharks claim Mikey Eyssimont: Fear the Fin
Murat Ates, who writes about the Jets for The Athletic gave this insight following the news: ‘As I’ve written for years now, I’m a big fan of Eyssimont’s tenacity and pain in the ass way of playing hockey. Not sure if he’s a full-time NHL player to me but he’s a gamer, no doubt. Fun to watch.’
Does he have an official rookie card?
Yes he does! While he also has some cards from his days with the Fargo Force in the USHL, Eyssimont was featured as a rookie in the 2022-23 O-Pee-Chee set with the Winnipeg Jets. He did not make the cut for 2022-23 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns rookie class, but there is a chance he will be in Series 2 which is scheduled to drop at the end of this month.