Lightning re-sign forward Mitchell Chaffee to 2-year NHL deal

Lightning re-sign forward Mitchell Chaffee to 2-year NHL deal

TAMPA —The Lightning made their first move of the offseason Thursday, re-signing forward Mitchell Chaffee to a two-year, one-way contract worth an annual average value of $800,000, the team announced.

Chaffee, 26, went from opening the season at AHL Syracuse to becoming a regular in the Lightning lineup, providing physical play and strong forechecking primarily as a third-line winger.

He had four goals and seven points in 30 regular-season games with the Lightning and played in all five playoff games. Despite playing less than ⅓ of the Lightning’s games, Chaffee’s 88 hits ranked sixth among Tampa Bay forwards.

After he was recalled from Syracuse for good on Jan. 24, Chaffee played in 29 of the Lightning’s last 34 games, eventually settling in as the right wing on a third line with center Nick Paul and left wing Mikey Eyssimont.

Related: How Lightning rookie Mitchell Chaffee pushed his way into the Lightning lineup

Chaffee signed with the Lightning on the first day of free agency last offseason, agreeing to a one-year, two-way deal worth the league minimum of $775,000. He entered last season with just two games of NHL experience, both coming in 2021-22 with Minnesota.

Chaffee was coming off a serious knee injury sustained the previous season while playing for the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa and was still getting his legs back entering training camp. But the Lightning were impressed with his play with the Crunch, where he had 12 goals and 26 points in 36 games.

Chaffee’s path was much like that of Eyssimont, who came to the organization in his mid-20s and found an opportunity to become an everyday player with the Lightning.

Like Eyssimont last season, Chaffee entered the offseason as a Group 6 unrestricted free agent and was the first re-signing of the offseason. A Group 6 UFA is a player who is at least 25 years old and has played at least three professional seasons but fewer than 80 NHL games. He was the only Group 6 UFA on the Lightning roster.

With Chaffee re-signed, the Lightning have seven remaining unrestricted free agents, headlined by captain Steven Stamkos. The team’s other UFAs are forwards Anthony Duclair, Tyler Motte and Austin Watson, and defensemen Matt Dumba, Calvin de Haan and Haydn Fleury. If they remain unsigned, those players will become free agents on July 1.

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