Canadian ice hockey left winger Nicholas Paul has agreed to a seven-year, $22.05 million contract (average annual value of $3.15 million) with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. The 27-year-old forward could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
The Ontario native Paul had 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 80 games this season, including 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 21 games with the Lightning. Notably, he was acquired on March 20 in a trade with the Ottawa Senators for forward Mathieu Joseph and a fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
“It feels good to get an offer that quickly, that aggressively and then for a long term like that,” Paul said, as quoted by NHL.com. “It’s a cool feeling to feel wanted like that and for it to happen so quickly. Seven years is a long time, and for them to have that confidence in me and to believe I’m going to better my game and be a better player and continue to help this team be successful and they see that for seven years … is really huge.”
“BriseBois really appreciates what I bring to the table”
Paul, 27, had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including both Tampa Bay goals in its 2-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round. He also had a couple of goals in the Final, which the Lightning lost to the Colorado Avalanche in six games.
He added: “When I would talk to (GM) Julien (BriseBois), he really appreciates what I bring to the table. We had a good talk about where my future is headed and what he likes and everything about my game.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I wasn’t looking around. I knew this is where I wanted to be, and thankfully we got it done.”