A young National Hockey League forward has just completed an unbelievable run of success and it is genuinely difficult to imagine how incredibly happy he must be on this day.
According to an official report from the Tampa Bay Lightning's official website the organization has just signed 26 year old center Yanni Gourde to a massive new contract that will pay him just under $31 million over the course of the next 6 years. The contract breaks down to an average annual value of $5.166 million per season, a huge contract for a guy coming off just his first full season in the National Hockey League. It's obvious that the Lightning view Gourde as a key part of their personnel moving forward and they said as much in the press release for the announcement.
"We are very pleased to have Yanni as a part of the Lightning organization for the foreseeable future," general manager Julien BriseBois said as per NHL.com. "Yanni personifies our team's identity with his speed and relentlessness on the ice and his strong character off of it. He is proof of how far hard work and dedication can take you, and we look forward to him continuing his career in Tampa Bay."
Those aren't just pretty words from the Lightning general manager either, Gourde is absolutely everything he was just described as. After being ignored by every single team in the NHL draft Gourde continue to grind towards his dream by first playing in the American Hockey League and eventually earning his way up to the NHL level. Needless to say going from being an undrafted forward to earning a 6 year deal worth over $30 million is an insane accomplishment and one that speaks to so many good qualities for Gourde.
Gourde played his first full 82 games season wit hthe Lightning last season and contributed a very stellar 25 goals and 39 assists for 69 points and was a plus minus of +17 over tha tstretch of play as well. This season he's looked even better with a 12 game start that includes 4 goals and 8 assists for a point per game performance thus far this season, only one of 3 Lightning players currently above that threshold.
This deal does look like a bit of a gamble given Gourde's inexperience, but if he continues to play at this current pace it will look like a steal for the Lightning in the years to come.