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Lightning lock up Johnson: seven years, $35M

Tyler Johnson, Petr Mrazek

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) celebrates after scoring past Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34), of the Czech Republic, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman did it again.

After filing for salary arbitration, Tyler Johnson instead struck a long-term deal with the Bolts, and it’s at what could go down as a bargain price. Johnson was inked to a seven-year, $35 million contract on Monday, good for a $5 million cap hit.

The team confirmed those terms, while Johnson celebrated the signing on Instagram.

Perhaps the only concern here is if Johnson cannot approach his best work.

He scored 50 points in 2013-14 and then exploded for 72 during the Lightning’s breakout 2014-15 campaign, also starring as they gave the Chicago Blackhawks a good fight in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Since then, he’s struggled with injuries and inconsistency, being held to under 20 goals in each of 2015-16 (38 points in 69 games) and 2016-17 (45 points in 66 games).

Still, even in a tough overall 2015-16 campaign, Johnson managed 17 points in as many playoff games, hinting that he may still be able to approach his production from 2014-15.

With a palatable $5 million cap hit and some prime years left at 26, it’s a pretty nice deal for both sides. Not bad for a smaller forward who didn’t even get drafted.

The Lightning must continue to conjure cap magic, however, as Ondrej Palat still faces a possible arbitration hearing. The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith notes that the hearing is scheduled for July 25, so there’s time for Yzerman to reach a deal with him, too.

On the bright side, there’s some room to work with.