Jake Guentzel signed a seven-year, $63 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. It has an average annual value of $9 million.

The 29-year-old forward was traded to the Lightning by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday for a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft and could have become an unrestricted free agent at noon ET Monday. He had 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 67 regular-season games for the Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins last season, including 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 17 games with the Hurricanes after he was acquired in a trade with the Penguins on March 7. Guentzel had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games for Carolina.

“It’s definitely been a little bit of a whirlwind, kind of first time through this whole process. Obviously things just didn’t work out in Carolina, then I heard Tampa might be trading for my rights and obviously I got really excited because everyone hears how good of a team and how good of a spot this is," Guentzel said. "Got the trade call yesterday and kind of just worked through some things. It’s obviously a really exciting time for me and my family. I just can’t wait to get down there and see what it’s all about. You hear a bunch of good things about them and the organization as well. I’m really fortunate for this opportunity and it’s going to be fun for me and my family.”

Selected by Pittsburgh in the third round (No. 77) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Guentzel has 491 points (227 goals, 264 assists) in 520 regular-season games for the Hurricanes and Penguins and 67 points (38 goals, 29 assists) in 69 playoff games. He won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2017.

Jake Guentzel on signing with the Lightning

Tampa Bay traded defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club on Saturday for defenseman J.J. Moser and forward Conor Geekie, a seventh-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2025. The Lightning also sent forward Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick this year and a second-round selection in 2025.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Saturday that forward Steven Stamkos, who just played the last season of an eight-year, $68 million contract ($8.5 million average annual value) he signed June 29, 2016, will become a UFA when the market opens.

“I mean look, he's a Hall of Famer, he’s a special player," Guentzel said. "I have the utmost respect for the guy. He’s just an unbelievable player and person I’ve heard. I’m not really sure what's going on or what happened. Hopefully there’s still a chance he can come back. I would love to play with him and see where it goes. I have a lot of respect for him and obviously I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

“It’s part of the business. You’re not really sure what’s going to happen, but obviously this opportunity for me and my family was just tough to pass up. This hockey game, there’s going to be pressure wherever you play, so I feel like you’ve just gotta make the most of the opportunity.”

NHL Tonight on Guentzel trade

Guentzel, who played with Sidney Crosby in PIttsburgh for eight seasons, now gets to play with forwards Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point in Tampa.

“Those two guys especially are just elite players in this league, top players in the league," Guentzel said. "From afar you watch those guys and those are two guys you try to watch more times than anyone. They’re obviously really high-skilled players, they obviously can score a lot of goals, make a lot of plays. So if that comes about where I’m playing with them, I’m really excited to try to get open for them, get them the puck as much as possible.

"I’ve been fortunate to play with Sid and [Evgeni Malkin] and obviously Sebastian Aho (with Carolina), so I’ve had the experience of playing with good players, so if I get the chance to play with those guys it’s going to be really fun for me and I can’t wait.” independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

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