Tampa Bay Lightning Acquire Rights To Jake Guentzel From Carolina Hurricanes

Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press through the AP

Speculation over the last few days have been that the Tampa Bay Lightning were interested in pending Unrestricted Free Agent, Jake Guentzel, from the Carolina Hurricanes. At the time, it did not make much sense, with the team having just $5 million in cap space and franchise captain Steven Stamkos still without a contract. Things became more confusing at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft as Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois traded Mikhail Sergachev to the Utah HC, and minutes later, Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings, clearing up $11.5 million in cap and $16.5 million total projected. Today, things became more clear as the Lightning have acquired the rights to Guentzel from the Hurricanes in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft. Guentzel is coming off a 77-point season in 67 games played, with time split between the Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins. Guentzel was drafted by the Penguins 77th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Guentzel was part of the 2016-17 Stanley Cup winning Penguins and had his name in the history books with the Pens for being the first back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in the salary cap era. It was his first season in the NHL, and he showed the potential of being a star player, despite being drafted in the third round. He played 40 regular season games, tallying 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points and a +7 rating. During the playoffs, Guentzel was in the lineup 25 times and was incredible. He notched 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points and went just +1.

Guentzel will be a key player on this Lightning roster should they get a contract negotiated if one is not already in place. Listed at 5’11, Guentzel is not a massive body, but plays bigger than he actually is. His smallish body and quickness allows him to find holes in the opposition’s defense to create grade-A chances. Not only is he a talented finisher, scoring 227 goals over 520 games, but he’s able to find teammates with better positioning. Over his career, Guentzel has 491 points (227g-264a) with an incredible +69 rating.

Guentzel produces most of his chances from five-on-five play, which the Lightning struggled with a bit this past season. Prior to the All-Star Break this past season, Guentzel played 46 games, tallying 22 goals and 27 assists, and was a +27. Playing alongside Sydney Crosby the majority of his career, he should fit in nicely on the first line alongside Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Despite having two goal-scorers on that top line between Point and Guentzel, they would still be well-rounded with Guentzel playing a decent 200-foot game, though he is not very physical, Point being a speedy center that can put the puck in the back of the net, and with Kucherov doing Kucherov things. Having Guentzel on that top-line will give Kuch more passing options and a better percentage of tallying on more assists. While the puck is not on his stick, his instinct is to go directly to the net to look for a screen or tip in front to make the goalie’s life miserable.

It will be interesting to see which powerplay unit he ends up on. While it will most likely be the first unit, Point is in the bumper spot in the middle of the ice on the first, which takes away Guentzel’s usual spot. Putting him on the left-wing side could be a possibility, but would be a bit difficult to get a quick shot off if the pass is not perfect as he is a left-handed shooter. Throwing him on the second unit would not be all that terrible as it would give them more goal-scoring capability. Guentzel could be thrown in the bumper spot on that line, looking for passes, screens, and tips from the point.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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Zachary Alvarado

Inside The Rink journalist covering the Wheeling Nailers and Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL. I am a Duquesne University Sports Information and Media major graduating in December. I have been passionate about hockey since I was 4 years old.

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