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Tyler Johnson signs seven-year contract with Lightning

Forward gets $35 million through 2023-24 season, was restricted free agent

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Forward Tyler Johnson signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

"I'm very excited to be staying in Tampa and staying with this organization," Johnson said. "This is the place I wanted to be and [general manager Steve Yzerman] said he wanted me back. So I knew we were going to get a deal done. It was a little tough to wait, but I'm glad that we got this done and I'm excited to get back in the room and on the ice with my teammates so we can win a Stanley Cup for [owner Jeff Vinik] and the great fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning."

Johnson, who turns 27 on July 29, became a restricted free agent on July 1 and had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 20. The contract has an average annual value of $5 million and runs through the 2023-24 season.

"There was no doubt I wanted to stay and that's because of the commitment that Mr. Vinik and Steve have made to winning and running and having a first-class organization from top to bottom," Johnson said. "I can't speak enough about how great everyone within the organization is and how much they have helped me as a player. We have all the resources we need to be successful, and there's no better place to play hockey than in Tampa."

 

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Johnson had 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 66 games with the Lightning last season. He also had six power-play goals, 23 power-play points and three game-winning goals.

"He's one of our core players," Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times. "He's in the prime of his career, and we're pleased to lock him up for a significant period of time."

 

 

Johnson was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent on March 7, 2011, and has 211 points (89 goals, 122 assists) in 308 regular-season games and 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in 47 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Lightning. Johnson made the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2013-14 when he had 50 points (24 goals, 26 assists) in 82 games, and played in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

The Lightning failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season after qualifying the previous three seasons. Tampa Bay lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, and was defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the 2016 Eastern Conference Final.

"We had two successful playoff runs [in 2015 and 2016] and it was tough missing out on the playoffs last season," Johnson said. "It's frustrating to know how close we were and didn't get there, especially after the success we had in the two previous years. I know every one of the guys in the locker room are itching to get back on the ice so we can start working toward getting back to the playoffs right away."

After signing Johnson, the Lightning have about $8.6 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly.com. Tampa Bay still needs to sign restricted free agent forward Ondrej Palat to a contract.

The Lightning can sign right wing Nikita Kucherov to a contract extension beginning July 1, 2018. He signed a three-year, $14.3 million contract with an average annual value of $4.766 million as a restricted free agent on Oct. 11.

Video: TBL@BUF: Johnson tips Hedman's feed past Lehner

Johnson is thrilled with the opportunity to remain as part of the Lightning core moving forward.

"I am lucky to have the teammates I do, and to know that I'll continue to play with those guys is very exciting," he said. "As a group, we have great leadership in the locker room and chemistry on the ice. Many of these guys I've been around since the [American Hockey League] and we all support each other and want each other to be successful. We're a close-knit group and we all share the same goal of wanting to win a Stanley Cup."

Because of Tampa Bay's cap situation, Yzerman traded forward Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens on June 15 for defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev. The Canadiens signed Drouin to a six-year, $33 million contract, with an average annual value of $5.5 million.

Tampa Bay signed forward Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $2 million contract and defenseman Dan Girardi to a two-year, $6 million contract on July 1. Their contracts take up $5 million of cap space.

"Obviously, Jonathan Drouin is a going to be a great player in the League and I enjoyed playing with him," Johnson said. "Everything I've heard and read about [Sergachev] has been very positive, and I'm excited to see him when I get to camp. I don't know Girardi or Kunitz very well, but they were hard guys to play against. People that I do know that know them say they are unbelievable leaders and locker room guys, so I think we're really excited about that. We have a really great room as it is but having that extra presence that you get in some of those players helps out a lot. So I think everyone's really excited coming into camp and seeing where our team fits."

NHL.com Correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report.

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