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Lightning re-sign Cole Koepke

Syracuse Crunch Cole Koepke (45) scores a goal against Belleville Senators Jacob Bernard-Docker (24) and goalie Mads Sogaard (40) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Sunday, March 20, 2022. Syracuse won 5-4 in OT. Photo by Scott Thomas (Scott Thomas Photography)

The Tampa Bay Lightning checked off another box on their summer to-do list as they announced the signing of pending restricted free agent Cole Koepke to a one-year, two-way contract.

After a strong rookie season in 2021-22 where he scored 20 goals for the Syracuse Crunch in his first full season of professional hockey, Koepke put himself in line to earn a spot on the Lightning’s roster for 2022-23. The 25-year-old did that as played on the third line in the Bolt’s season opening 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.

Unfortunately, the former 6th round pick wasn’t able to make a lasting impact and was reassigned to Syracuse in early December after recording one goal in 17 games with the Bolts.

With the Crunch he ended up skating in 72 games where he put up 7 goals and added 12 assists. A noticeable dip in his shooting percentage (6.5% vs. 10.1% in 2021-22) led to some of the offensive drop-off.

He’ll likely compete for one of the open roster spots in camp this fall with an eye on returning to the NHL. He has the size (6’1″, 196 pounds) and the style of play that should make for a fit on the third or fourth line as he does have the ability to forecheck and play along the boards. Finding the consistency on a nightly basis against NHL competition is what is needed for him to stick with the Lightning next season.

While he is technically a restricted free agent after this deal expires, he could qualify as a Group VI unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t get to 80 NHL games played by the end of the season.

Full press release from the Lightning:


TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Cole Koepke to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Koepke, 25, made his NHL debut in Tampa Bay’s 2022-23 season opener October 11 at the New York Rangers. He skated in 17 games total with the Lightning, registering one point, a goal which came November 13 versus Washington.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Koepke also played in 52 regular season games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League during the 2022-23 season, posting seven goals and 19 points. He added three assists in five Calder Cup Playoff contests to rank tied for second on the Crunch for assists and tied for fifth for scoring.

Koepke was a sixth-round selection (183rd overall) of the Lightning in the 2018 NHL Draft.

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