Lightning sign Michael Eyssimont to a 2-year, $1.6 million deal

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Michael Eyssimont to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

Eyssimont, 26, was acquired on March 1 from San Jose for forward Vladislav Namestnikov.

In 15 regular season games with the Lightning, Eyssimont had a goal and two points. He made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in Game 1 of a first-round series against Toronto and picked up his first playoff points with a goal and an assist in Game 5.

Tampa Bay lost the series in six games to the Maple Leafs.

Eyssimont began the 2022-23 season with Winnipeg before being claimed off waivers by San Jose on January 6.

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    Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy says he struggled with big workload

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
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    TAMPA, Fla. – Andrei Vasilevskiy doesn’t know if the heavy workload over the past four seasons is to blame.

    But the two-time Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender feels as if his body let him down in the second half of the season.

    And he believes he knows why.

    “My mistake was that I didn’t really pay attention to my recovery,” Vasilevskiy said on Tuesday, three days after Tampa Bay was eliminated by Toronto in a first-round playoff series.

    “The first 30, 35 games, I felt as usual but then me and my body weren’t on the same page, I guess,” Vasilevskiy added. “All those small injuries came out at the same time. Good lessons, another experience. This season really showed me that I have to be smart about it. So, if I want to be a workhorse I have to recover well.”

    Vasilevskiy started 71 playoff games as Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2020 and ’21, earning playoff MVP honors the second time, before losing to Colorado in last season’s final. He went 34-22-4 in 60 regular-season games this season, but lost 12 of his final 20 outings.

    He has played more hockey since the bubble playoffs began in August 2020 than anyone else in the NHL: 14,769 minutes over 242 games in the regular season and playoffs. The next-closest over that time is Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck at just under 11,372 minutes over 192 games.

    “We’ll find out next year if it was too many games or just something else,” Vasilevskiy said.

    Vasilevskiy’s goal-against-average of 2.65 and .915 save percentage during the regular season were his worst since the 2015-16 season.

    However, the Lightning have been impacted by salary-cap related player losses over the past couple of seasons, including standout defenseman Ryan McDonagh and winger Ondrej Palat.

    “At some point will it take a toll? I’m sure it does,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Vasilevskiy’s heavy workload. “So, he’s probably being a little harder on himself. You take a few months off, his body will heal. He’s still a young man, keeps himself in terrific shape but the mind’s got to heal and I think that will be probably be the best part there.”

    Vasilevskiy, 28, plans to rest for the next five to seven weeks.

    “More opportunity to prepare your mind and body for the next season properly,” Vasilevskiy said. “Something we didn’t have the last few years. I don’t normally like to take too much time off, but at the same time I understand that it’s something I need right now. Be smart next season about it, and what I have to change during the offseason, during the season just to stay more fresh.”


    Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois confirmed that defenseman Erik Cernak has a concussion stemming from a check to the head by Toronto’s Michael Bunting in the series opener that prompted a three-game suspension.

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman sat out Game 2 against the Maple Leafs with a hip impingement.

    Center Brayden Point played with a rib cage cartilage fracture after a hit by defenseman Morgan Rielly in Game 3.


    Captain Steven Stamkos will be entering the final year of his contract next season and talks about an extension will begin this summer.

    Left winger Alex Killorn is an unrestricted free agent and might be the next salary-cap related departure. He has played 11 years for Tampa Bay.

    Forward Corey Perry, who turns 38 on May 16, plans to keep playing. The unrestricted free agent has 417 goals in an 18-year career.

    Tavares, Marner lead Maple Leafs past Lightning, series tied

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    TORONTO — John Tavares had his first playoff hat trick and the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded from a poor playoff start with a lopsided 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night to even the teams’ first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

    Mitch Marner had two goals and an assist, William Nylander added a goal and an assist, and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for Toronto.

    Morgan Rielly tied a franchise record with four assists. Auston Matthews also had two assists for the Maple Leafs, whose stars stepped up. Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves for Toronto after being pulled in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss.

    Ian Cole and Corey Perry scored for the Lightning, who were without injured defensemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak. Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has played every minute of Lightning postseason action since 2020, allowed seven goals on 37 shots.

    The series shifts to Florida, where Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven set are scheduled for Saturday and Monday.

    Facing a 0-2 deficit against an opponent that’s a perfect 10-0 all-time when winning the first two games of a series, Toronto scored 47 seconds into the opening period on a power play when Marner beat Vasilevskiy with a slap shot on the first shot.

    The Maple Leafs survived two Lightning power plays thanks to Samsonov and some desperate shot blocks. Then, Tavares made it 2-0 at 12:45 when he took a pass from Rielly and fired through a screen.

    Toronto took a three-goal lead on a delayed penalty when Nylander scored his second of the series at 15:08.

    After being booed at every buzzer on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs received a loud ovation from their towel-waving fans as they headed to the locker room.

    Toronto, which lost to Tampa in a tight first-round series last spring and hasn’t advanced in the post-season since 2004, continued to push in the second.

    The Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021 and reached the championship round last year, scored at 8:58 of the second when Cole scored off the rush to make it 3-1.

    The Maple Leafs wobbled a bit, but Tavares scored his second of the game at 13:14.

    Toronto’s fourth line got in on the action when Aston-Reese banged home a loose puck at 15:52, before Marner added his second on a shot that glanced off a Lightning player in front of Vasilevskiy with 1:58 left in the period.

    Perry, who had a goal and two assists Tuesday, added his second of the series for the Lightning with 7:22 left. The winger then dropped the gloves with Justin Holl before both got sent off the ice.

    Tavares completed his hat trick – the 12th of his career – with under five minutes remaining on a man advantage.

    NOTES: Both teams were minus key pieces Thursday. Hedman sat out with an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 1, while Cernak didn’t dress after taking an illegal check to the head from Michael Bunting in the opener. The Toronto winger was suspended three games. Tampa center Michael Eyssimont also didn’t suit up after taking a huge hit Tuesday from Toronto’s Jake McCabe. … The Lightning did get some positive injury news with Jeannot’s return from a leg injury suffered earlier this month. … Toronto rookie Matthew Knies made his playoff debut in place of Bunting. … Rielly’s four assists tied the franchise record in a playoff game, joining Doug Gilmour (1994), Darryl Sittler (1977) and Ian Turnbull (1976). His three assists in the first marked the only time in team history a Toronto player registered three points in a postseason period. … Marner’s goal 47 seconds into the first was the quickest by a Maple Leafs player in the postseason since Dan Daoust (31 seconds) in 1987.

    Maple Leafs’ Bunting suspended 3 games for head shot on Cernak

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    NEW YORK — Toronto’s Michael Bunting has been suspended three games for a head shot on Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak in the teams’ first-round series opener.

    Bunting will now miss Games 2, 3, and 4. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced the suspension after a phone hearing with Bunting to discuss the play.

    Bunting was given a match penalty and ejected from Game 1 for an illegal check to the head late in the second period. Cernak left and did not return.

    Veteran Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano said Bunting did not intend to injure Cernak.

    “I think (Bunting’s) thinking both guys are going to sort of engage shoulder-to-shoulder, but unfortunately their guy wasn’t really in that mode of engaging, and he got hit,” Giordano said after practice in Toronto, before the suspension was announced.

    “I don’t think Bunts really even looked at him. I think it was just one of those plays where you know who you’re playing against, and the guy knows he’s going to come at you hard. He was trying to just go shoulder-to-shoulder, get some separation, and it ended up in that.”

    Coach Jon Cooper generally deferred to the league when asked about Bunting’s hit but said it “checks all the boxes” for supplemental discipline.

    Cernak was one of three Lightning players to leave with an injury and along with forward Michael Eyssimont won’t play in Game 2 in Toronto. Cooper said top defenseman Victor Hedman was questionable to play.

    Lightning’s Killorn, Rangers’ Fox fined $5,000 for slashing

    Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

    NEW YORK — Alex Killorn of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Adam Fox of the New York Rangers were fined $5,000 apiece for separate slashing incidents.

    The NHL’s department of player safety announced the supplemental discipline.

    Killorn was fined for spearing Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin midway through the second period. Fox was fined for slashing Lightning winger Corey Perry a few minutes earlier.

    The $5,000 amount is the maximum allowed under the league and players union’s collective bargaining agreement. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

    Each player was penalized for slashing on the play. The feisty game, won by the Rangers 6-3, featured four fights and 80 combined penalty minutes.

    New York and Tampa Bay met in the Eastern Conference final last year. Both have qualified for the playoffs this season, but could not meet until the third round.