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Lightning sign restricted free agent Gabriel Fortier to one-year deal

Syracuse Crunch Gabriel Fortier (9) hitting the breaks against Lehigh Valley Phantoms in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 30, 2021. Syracuse won 3-2 in OT. Photo courtesy of Scott Thomas (Scott Thomas Photography)

The summer business keeps moving along at a slow and steady pace for the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Wednesday the club announced that they had signed forward Gabriel Fortier to a one-year, two-way deal. The 23-year-old was drafted in the second round way back in 2018 and made his NHL debut in 2021-22 when he appeared in 10 games for the Lightning. Last season he made one appearance for the Bolts, as he played 8:25 on October 15 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Financial terms were not disclosed by the Lightning.

If feels like the 5’10, 177 pound winger has been in the organization forever as he made his Syracuse Crunch debut way back in the 2018-19, playing in 4 regular season games on an ATO. He finished his junior hockey career with Moncton in 2020-21, joining the Crunch for 30 games that season where he picked up 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists). The next season would be his most productive as he scored 14 goals and added 21 assists in 72 games for the Crunch while getting one goal in those 10 games with the Lightning.

This past season saw him score 11 more goals in 67 games for Syracuse. Fortier has a high workrate and decent speed on the ice. He can kill penalties and forecheck and, despite his size, plays a physical game. His relatively small sample size in the 2021-22 season saw him post 15.51 hits per 60 minutes and post a 56.68% expected goals for. With his experience and his skillset, Fortier ranks high among the Lightning prospect list. We had him in the 5th spot in our 2022 Top 25 Under 25 Rankings and despite a bit of a setback this season, he’ll likely remain in the top 5. Scott Wheeler over at The Athletic had him 9th among Lightning prospects.

Depending on what the Lightning do this summer, he’ll likely be in the mix for one of the open forward spots along with Cole Koepke, Rudolfs Balcers, and Lucas Edmonds. It’s not necessarily a make-or-break year for Fortier, but it would be a boon for the Lightning if he is able to make the club and fill out one of the spots on the third or fourth line.

If he doesn’t make the Lightning out of training camp he will likely be among their first call-ups should injuries befall the forwards who do make the team. Despite his relatively young age, he would be leaned on as a leader with the Crunch and likely take a spot somewhere in the top-six.

With his signing the Lightning now have six restricted free agents in the organization unsigned, although it’s unlikely they will sign Simon Ryfors who is set to play in Europe next season. Along with the big names (Ross Colton and Tanner Jeannot) Balcers, Grant Mishmash, and Dmitri Semykin have yet to be signed.

The full press release is below:

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

Fortier, who will enter his fifth season in the Lightning organization in 2023-24, appeared in 67 regular season games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League last season, posting 11 goals and 29 points before skating in each of the club’s five Calder Cup Playoff games. The 5-foot-10, 177-pound forward played in one game with the Lightning in 2022-23 and logged 8:25 time on ice.

Fortier, 23, made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay on November 30, 2021 at St. Louis. The Lachine, Quebec native has skated in 11 games with the Lightning between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, tallying one point, a goal that came on December 21, 2021 at Vegas. Fortier has appeared in 173 games for the Syracuse Crunch since the 2018-19 season, posting 31 goals and 74 points.

Fortier was originally a second-round selection (59th overall) of the Lightning in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

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