One of the many major decisions for Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman this offseason is determining the future of forward Teddy Purcell.
Purcell still has two years left on his current contract that pays him $4.5 million a season.
After Purcell bagged a career high 24 goals during the 2011-12 season, Yzerman signed the Newfoundland native to a new three-year contract extension, which extended his old contract by another year, keeping him in Tampa through 2015-16.
However, since Purcell has signed the deal, he’s been a disappointment, scoring wise especially. In the two seasons since his extension he hasn’t even totalled the 24 goals he scored three seasons ago.
In 129 games Purcell has scored a measly 23 goals despite playing top-six minutes. He’s developed a habit of passing up glorious scoring opportunities to find the perfect pass which has drawn the ire of many Lightning fans.
Over the last two seasons he has 55 assists. While there’s no doubt that Purcell is a better set-up man than scorer, he seems to lack the belief to find the back of the net with regularity despite having a 24-goal season three years ago.
At the time of Purcell’s extension, he was viewed as part of the future for the Bolts. However, with the emergence of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and others, Purcell is somewhat expendable.
Purcell has been a good points producer since he joined the Bolts and was a valuable part of their turnaround this past season. He was also an instrumental part of their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011-12, where Purcell had a career high 65 points in the regular season.
His salary is probably too high for a guy who can’t even manage 15 goals a season but he does remain a productive player and adds is a valuable asset. Other players, such as Brett Connolly, seem more likely to be traded than Purcell.
The Lightning have other concerns first before deciding upon Purcell’s future, such as re-signing a number of their own free agents. The Lightning also have a good chunk of salary cap space so keeping Purcell’s contract won’t hinder them too much. All in all, it’s likely Purcell will be in Tampa next year, which is not a bad thing whatsoever.
In 310 career games with the Lightning, Purcell has 67 goals and 136 assists for a total of 203 points. In 22 career playoff games with the Bolts, he’s added 18 points.