By Jake Ricker
You get an 8-year extension, you get an 8-year extension, everyone gets an 8-year extension! That's what it felt like GM Julien Briesebois was saying in his office this afternoon as the Lightning signed three key players to 8-year deals. Let's take a look at each of those deals and what they mean for the Lightning moving forward.
Sergachev was the first deal announced, as he signed an 8-year $68 million deal (8.5 million AAV).
Sergachevs deal will also have a full no-move clause for the first four years and then a modified no-trade clause for years 5-8 (16 teams). This contract will kick in during the 2023-2024 season.
With a high cap hit, there were a lot of quick reactions to this deal. Many thought it was way too much for Sergachev, who wasn't perfect last year. But there are a few important things to remember when looking at this deal. Seargachev is only 24 years old and has already helped the Lightning win two Stanley Cups. At such a young age, Sergachev can continue to improve his game and turn into a really great player for the Lightning.
Eight and a half million dollars is a lot. There's no denying that, and Sergachev is now expected to take over the role Ryan McDonagh had. The bottom line is that the jury is still out on this contract. If Sergachev can continue to improve his game and truly start playing like a top-two defenseman, this deal will be a good one. However, if he can't do that, the Lightning definitely overpaid and will need to hope the salary cap continues to jump over the next few years.
Just a few minutes later, Cirelli signed an 8-year $50 million deal (6.25 million AAV). This contract will also kick in next year after his current deal ends. Cirelli's deal was met with much more excitement from the fanbase, and rightfully so.
Cirelli, who is only 24, is not only a solid offensive player but also a great defensive player as well. He is often in the top 5 for Selke voting and just might win it one year. Cirelli, who is entering his 6th NHL season, put up 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) last year, which is only one point behind his 2019-2020 total. His ability to score goals and be a big part of the Lightning penalty kill is what makes him such an important part of this roster, and at 6.25 million per year, the Lightning are in a great spot.
Cirelli has run into a few injury issues recently and had surgery this offseason to repair his shoulder. Cirelli has shown no signs of slowing down, and if he can continue to play at the high level he has, this will be yet another home run signing for JBB.
Cernak was the last player to be announced, but he signed an 8-year, $41.6 million (5.2 million AAV) extension. This is perhaps the best deal for the Lightning out of all three. Cernak is an extremely underrated defenseman who may not make the highlight reel, but will sacrifice his body game after game.
Cernak has especially noticeable during this year's playoff run as it felt like every game he had to run to the locker room for repairs but yet never sustained a long-term injury. Cernak has 295 blocked shots over his four seasons in the NHL, which just shows the dedication he gives. The most important part of Cernak's game, though, is his defensive game. He is often paired up against some of the top players on the other team and still holds great statistics in the analytics community.
At just 5.2 million per year, Cernak will provide the Lightning with solid defensive play for years to come. Not to mention he is not afraid to throw the body when things start to get physical.
The Lightning shelled out $159.6 Million in about 8 minutes, but all of these players are a huge part of the core and help keep the Lightning's window open for years to come. While Sergachevs contract is a risky one, overall, all of these contracts are a step in the right direction for the organization.
Let us know what you think about each of these contracts in the comments below and who you would like to see get a big extension next.
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