It had been a rumor for some time, and yesterday, the hammer dropped, and the rumor finally became a reality when the Seattle Kraken took center Yanni Gourde in the expansion draft ending a six-year run with the Tamp Bay Lightning.
The 29-year-old Gourde played in 310 regular-season games, with the Lightning scoring 80 goals and amassing 187 points.
Gourde set the Lightning rookie record for goals with 25 during his first season in the NHL in 2017-18.
Gourde was in the middle of a six-year 31 million dollar contract which he signed in 2018. The contract paid him $5.166 million a year with the Lightning.
Gourde had 17 goals and 36 points this last season and was tied for second on the team with 17 goals. He also played in every regular-season game for the second consecutive season.
Gourde also played a pivotal role in helping the Lightning win their second Stanley Cup this past season, centering the third line with Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.
He scored six goals and added an assist in this season’s Stanley Cup run, but what he added most to the team didn’t show up in the box score. His heart, passion, energy, and intensity that he brought to the ice every shift.
It didn’t matter if it was game five of the Stanley Cup finals or game 35 of the regular season on a snowy night in Calgary; Gourde brought the fire and intensity every shift, every game.
That’s what the fans appreciated about Yanni Gourde.
In speaking with Joe Smith of the Athletic, Gourde talked about his time in Tampa:
It’s been quite a ride, honestly. Leaving this team, this organization, they gave me the opportunity in the first place. Leaving these guys, we have such a tremendous group here. These guys are amazing. We won two Stanley Cups. It doesn’t happen quite often. It’s definitely something I’m going to cherish forever.
Gourde went on to say that with the Lightning not protecting Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson, he was surprised that the Kraken chose him.
After the shock of the news wore for, Gourde told Smith that he is excited about this new opportunity:
It’s going to be an unreal experience. I’m excited to go there, play some hockey in front of the fans. They’re going to be one of the best. It seems like they’re an A-plus organization. It’s going to be a new challenge that is going to come with a lot of challenges. I think we’re ready for that.
After winning two consecutive Stanley Cups, this has been the off-season of losses so far for the Lightning.
The Bolts traded Barclay Goodrow to the New York Rangers earlier last week and now have lost Yanni Gourde to the Seattle Kraken.
Ultimately that third line will have to be rebuilt next season, as Gourde and Goodrow are gone, with only Blake Coleman remaining for now.
Coleman is also an unrestricted free agent, and the Lightning could very well lose him this off-season as well.
The Lightning was over the salary cap with 19 players under contract, and moves would have to be made to get under the cap. It just hurts to lose someone like Yanni Gourde that epitomizes the kind of player you want on your team and the type of player representing your hockey team.
A so, a new era of hockey will begin in Tampa with the 2021-22 season, new players, and new challenges,
Gourde did have one final word for the city of Tampa and the Lightning fans. “The fans, they were so good to me. They’ll be in my heart forever.
“Tampa, it’ll always have a special place in my heart.”