TAMPA — Even in the midst of the amateur draft, the Lightning recognized the importance of keeping as much young talent as possible inside the organization, especially with a tight salary cap and roster changes on the horizon.
Less than 48 hours after the draft concluded, the Lightning took the next step by extending qualifying offers to seven players ahead of free agency, which begins Wednesday.
By issuing the offers Monday, the Lightning have right of first refusal or draft pick compensation should any of the players choose to sign an offer sheet with another NHL team.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but here are the seven who were given qualifying offers:
Alex Barre-Boulet, 24, played in 15 regular-season games for the Lightning after making his NHL debut in February against the Hurricanes. The restricted free agent scored three goals and saw action on the first line with Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point when captain Steven Stamkos was out with an injury. Barre-Boulet also played 10 games with the AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch this year, contributing eight goals and four assists.
Ross Colton, 24, had a great rookie season with the Lightning, working his way into the lineup as a regular for the duration of the Stanley Cup run. He skated in 30 regular-season games (9-3—12), scoring his first NHL goal in his February debut against the Hurricanes. Colton played with confidence throughout the postseason despite his lack of experience. He skated on the third line in Barclay Goodrow’s absence and on the fourth with veterans Pat Maroon and Tyler Johnson. Most importantly, Colton scored the Cup-clinching goal against the Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
Boris Katchouk, 23, played in 29 games for the Crunch this season, leading his team with 34 points (11 goals and 23 assists). He ranked 10th in the AHL for points. The 2016 second-round pick has been making strong impressions on coaches and management since 2018.
Taylor Raddysh, 23, was second in points on the Crunch’s roster behind Katchouk with 29 in 27 games (12 goals and 17 assists). He has yet to make his NHL debut but was a mainstay among the healthy scratches this postseason, often practicing apart from the NHL veterans. He was drafted in the second round in 2016.
Otto Somppi, 23, was third in points for Syracuse behind Katchouk and Raddysh with 26 in 32 games (12 goals and 14 assists). Like Raddysh, Somppi has yet to make his NHL debut after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2016 draft.
Sean Day, 23, finished seventh on the Crunch with 15 points (three goals and 12 assists). He signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Lightning in 2020 after his contract was terminated by the Rangers (he was a third-round pick in 2016). He was unfit to play for the first three days of training camp before taking part in the team’s first intrasquad scrimmage on Jan. 6.
Cal Foote, 22, has made a good impression from the start of the season on coaches and front office personnel. And it helps having mentors like Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman and veteran blueliner Ryan McDonagh. After 35 regular-season games with the Lightning, Foote likely will play a bigger role next season. He finished with one goal and two assists after making his NHL debut in the Lightning’s opener against the Blackhawks in January.
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