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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Eduardo A. Encina

Lightning sign forward Tanner Jeannot to 2-year contract

TAMPA, Fla. — The Lightning signed Tanner Jeannot to a two-year contract Saturday, avoiding arbitration with the team’s only restricted free agent.

The deal, worth an average annual value of $2.665 million, keeps the Lightning’s top trade deadline acquisition under team control through the 2024-25 season.

Jeannot, 26, had filed for arbitration on July 5 and a hearing was scheduled for July 24, but it was always likely that the sides would come to an agreement before then. The Lightning haven’t had a player go to arbitration since 2007.

By signing the forward to a two-year deal, the Lightning avoided an arbitration process that would have decided a one-year deal for Jeannot and made him an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Jeannot also received a significant raise. He made an $800,000 average annual value the past two seasons.

Barring a move that would free up salary cap space, it also completes the Lightning’s offseason roster retooling. The Lightning are just $314,167 under the $83.5 million cap for 2023-24, according to CapFriendly’s calculations, but that number is fluid depending on how the roster is finalized.

The Lightning gave up a haul to acquire Jeannot before the trade deadline, relinquishing to the Predators a conditional first-round draft pick in 2025, a second-round pick in 2024 as well as third-, fourth- and fifth-rounders in last month’s draft, along with former first-round pick Cal Foote. The Lightning later re-acquired the fourth-round pick from Nashville and selected Minnesota high school standout Jayson Shaugabay.

Jeannot, who had 11 fights this past regular season and led the league with 15 fighting majors two seasons ago, added physicality to the Lightning lineup in a bottom-six role. He tallied a goal and three assists in 20 regular-season games before sustaining a high ankle sprain April 6 against the Islanders, putting the rest of his season in question. Since joining the Lightning lineup on Feb. 28, Jeannot’s 77 hits led the team.

He returned for Game 2 of the Lightning’s first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs, playing three games. He didn’t register a point, but had 16 hits, including a team-high 11 in a Game 3 overtime home loss. Jeannot didn’t play in the final two games of the series.

Going into his first full season in Tampa Bay, the Lightning are still banking that Jeannot can return to the offensive player that scored 24 goals and 41 points in 81 games as a rookie two seasons ago.

And the Lightning’s offseason departures certainly make Jeannot’s role much more important. He will have to be the team’s top enforcer with Pat Maroon traded to the Wild, and the departure of Alex Killorn leaves a top-six power forward spot — as well as top penalty killing minutes — open.

As an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent, once the Lightning made a Jeannot a qualifying offer, which they did in June, it placed him under team control for at least the next season.

Jeannot was the only restricted free agent left on the Lightning’s roster. The team traded forward Ross Colton — his upcoming raise made him no longer a fit financially with their cap constraints — to the Avalanche to get the 37th overall pick in last month’s draft.

Signing Jeannot essentially completes the Lightning’s offseason roster retooling, which focused on making the team’s bottom six faster and better defensively. They signed free-agent forwards Conor Sheary, Luke Glendening and Josh Archibald, as well as defenseman Calvin de Haan and backup goaltender Jonas Johansson.

The Lightning could still pursue extensions with Steven Stamkos and Brandon Hagel, both of whom are entering the final season of their existing contracts. Stamkos is slated for unrestricted free agency after 2023-24, and Hagel will become a restricted free agent. Earlier this month, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said it would be difficult to extend the players this offseason .

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