Every season, trade deadline acquisitions across the NHL carry a heavy weight on their shoulders. With the postseason rapidly approaching, teams with hopes of winning the Stanley Cup do whatever they can to bolster their roster. For the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022-23, that came in the trade for Tanner Jeannot, a big, intimidating forward from Saskatchewan.

Preparing for a game against the Arizona Coyotes as a member of the Nashville Predators last season, Jeannot was pulled from warm-ups and told he was going to be traded. He didn’t know where. He didn’t know when. He just knew he was being moved.

“It was definitely a crazy time,” explained Jeannot. “I wasn't expecting to get traded or anything like that. Then I got pulled off the ice and I was told it was happening. I didn't know where until after the game when I found out I was coming to Tampa. Obviously, I was really excited when I heard that.

“Coming in, all the guys were really welcoming. It felt really good to be here. I felt like a part of the team right away. I think the hardest part is just trying to learn the new system and all the language. It's different for each organization, so you’re just trying to learn the drills and the different ways of saying certain things.”

Joining a team as a trade deadline acquisition, players find themselves surrounded by teammates that have an entire season’s worth of chemistry together. As the newest member of the group, it takes time to find a groove.

And with the postseason around the corner, Jeannot was starting to find that groove with the Bolts. After picking up three assists over his first five games, Jeannot found the back of the net for the first time in an April 1 matchup with the New York Islanders.

But just five days later, he suffered a nasty injury in a rematch against the Isles, 12 days before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After getting tangled up with Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, Jeannot’s right leg got completely folded up underneath him. Unable to put any weight on the leg, Jeannot required assistance getting off the ice as it looked very possible that his entire season may be over.

“There’s never a good time to get injured, but especially then,” Jeannot shared. “I felt like I was fitting into the system and starting to find my role pretty good there. Then that happens and you're kind of starting from scratch again once you’re able to come back.

“It was definitely a bump in the road, but the training staff here is awesome. They worked with me every single day and got me back to feeling good.”

Following the injury, Jeannot’s goal was to make it back for Tampa Bay’s first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and, against all odds, he did. Jeannot was able to suit up for Games 2, 3, and 4 for the Lightning, but it was revealed after the series that while he was cleared to play, he wasn’t 100 percent as he fought through the pain and limitations of a high ankle sprain.

“I wanted to get back as quickly as I could to help the team,” Jeannot said. “That's my goal every single day. I just want to do everything I can to help the team win and I can't do that when I'm injured and on the sidelines.

“So that was my goal every single day when I was coming to the rink and doing my rehab. Whatever I had to do to get back as quickly as I could, I was going to do it. I just wanted to get back and help the team as much as I could.”

Fighting through the injury, Jeannot did whatever he could to have a positive impact on the ice, including dropping the gloves in a spirited bout with Luke Schenn in Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena. But, despite the team’s best effort, Tampa Bay fell in six games and saw its season come to an end.

With the season officially over, Jeannot became a restricted free agent and needed a new contract to keep him in Tampa. With an arbitration hearing set for July 24, the Bolts and Jeannot were able to hammer out a deal on July 15 – a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.665 million.

“It feels really good,” Jeannot said on signing his new contract. “I'm really happy with the deal. You know, the contract side of hockey isn’t the side that I really like. I just want to get out there and play hockey.

“But I'm glad that it's all done and I'm really looking forward to this year. Obviously, it's really nice to be here and be on a competitive team that has a great chance to win. That's the goal here. Everyone just wants to win. That's my goal as well.”

Now that the contract negotiations are behind him, Jeannot is ready to make a big impact for the Lightning this season. The 26-year-old spent the offseason training vigorously in preparation for what he hopes is another run at the Stanley Cup.

“I was working a lot on my game, and I still am,” said Jeannot. “Coming into this season with this team, there's a lot of really highly-skilled players and they're a really fast team to play with. So that was a big goal for me, working on my skating and puck handling this summer and adding that into my game.

“I know there's a lot of aspects of my game that aren’t going to go away with my physicality and my physical presence out there. But I think if I can add that speed and X-factor into my game, handling the puck a little bit better and just making more plays out there, that's going to be really helpful for the team.”

The first chance to show those improvements will be at training camp. Now that he has 23 games of experience under his belt with Tampa Bay, Jeannot enters the upcoming campaign knowing the verbiage of the coaching staff, the system, his role, and his teammates.

As opposed to joining the team at the trade deadline, Jeannot believes starting with the group at training camp will pay dividends in 2023-24.

“I think it's going to be really helpful,” Jeannot shared. “Just starting from scratch with a team and knowing where you're going to be in the lineup and what your role is going to be will help a lot.

“Coming to a new team in the middle of a season, you're trying to just see what you can do to best help the team and trying to fit into the system that's already there. Now going into camp, everyone's starting from scratch. It's a whole new year, so I’m just excited to see what we can do. Like I said before, my goal every single day is just to help the team as much as I can. Whatever I have to do, I’m going to do it.”

One way Jeannot knows he can help the team is through his physicality. Lightning fans saw it last year in his fight against Buffalo’s Riley Stillman, along with all 77 of his hits over the course of 20 regular season contests with the Bolts.

That physical presence isn’t going anywhere, but Jeannot is hoping to bring some other qualities to the ice in 2023-24 as well.

“My physical game is definitely a presence on the ice, and I do that every night so I'm going to keep that going,” said Jeannot. “I know that brings me some success, but I’m trying to be smarter with the puck, make better plays, be hard to play against in the O-zone as well as being reliable and trustworthy in the D-zone.

“I’m just trying to be that good, all-around guy that you feel safe with on the ice wherever the puck is. That’s my goal. Maybe get some penalty kill time and help the team that way and just continue being a hard guy to play against.

“I want to be a guy that teams are thinking about when you're going in to play them and just be that physical presence that can hopefully score and help out on the scoresheet sometimes too.”

The Lightning will certainly have a different look this season. With forwards like Alex Killorn, Ross Colton, Pat Maroon, and Corey Perry no longer with the team, new faces like Conor Sheary, Luke Glendening, and Tyler Motte have been brought in to fill the void and contribute. But that doesn’t change the standard in Tampa. As far as Jeannot and the Bolts are concerned, this group is ready to make another run at a Stanley Cup.

“I think this team has a chance to win every single year,” said Jeannot. “You look at the lineup top to bottom and there's a lot of skill. There's a lot of superstar talent on this team. There's a lot of veteran presence and experience in playoffs.

“There's so much of that energy to draw from for the new guys, as well as just having some fresh faces in there to add to it. I'm really excited about the year. I think this team is very capable of doing really good things and I'm excited to be a part of it and do everything I can to help.”