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Will Seattle Snag a First-Line Centre from Tampa Bay?

July 21, 2021, 1:10 AM ET [24 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
While Tyler Johnson liking a tweet about the Seattle Kraken and posting a sentimental video about his time in a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey has left some thinking that he might be taken in the expansion draft, the most likely outcome for the Bolts based on all available reporting is that Yanni Gourde will be westbound by this time tomorrow. What does that mean for the Lightning? A whole lot more than some people seem to think.

Much like there are bigger states than Ohio, there are bigger names on the Lightning roster than Gourde. And, yet, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Similarly, as Gourde goes, so go the Lightning on most nights. His presence anchoring the team’s third line has been vital for Jon Cooper in recent years, as it has allowed him to free up his more potent offensive stars with a remarkable degree of ease. Having Gourde to reliably take on rough and tough assignments with consistent success has been such a boon for the Lightning’s on-ice chances.

Simply put, the potential loss of Gourde will be felt by most corners of the fan base. He’s one of those unique players who impresses both on the analytics and eye-test fronts. Almost all analytically-inclined modelers already have him pegged as Seattle’s number-one centre heading into next year. Many of the models see Seattle as a potential playoff team in a weak Pacific Division, with Gourde right there in that central role.

With that said, though, there is a small but feisty segment of fans who seem to believe that Gourde was a product of Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman rather than his own standalone success story. Every bit of publicly available evidence proves that to be nonsense, perhaps attributable to too much focus on an coincidentally-timed scoring slump. The reality is that Gourde has been – and likely will continue to be – and incredible driver in the NHL.

Check out the absurd consistency Gourde has displayed on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck over the last three seasons, including during his time before Coleman and Goodrow arrived.

The bottom line: Absent a side deal that pays them a monumental sum to stay away, the Kraken should be selecting Gourde and running for the hills with glee. He’s that good. And the fact that the Lightning left a player of his calibre exposed is an unfortunate testament to the incredible depth in this organization.

As always, thanks for reading.
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