Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Four More Players; Extend Emil Lilleberg

Emil Lilleberg corrals the puck to make a play.
Photo by Andrew Fielder | Inside The Rink

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed four more players to their organization: defensemen Tobie Paquette-Bisson, Derrick Pouliot, Steven Santini, and forward Jesse Ylonen. All players were given one-year, two-way contracts. In addition, they have extended defenseman, Emil Lilleberg, to a two-year contract with an $800,000 annual average value which begins in the 2025-26 season.

Related Post: Lightning Making a Big Mistake by Letting Stamkos Walk

Lilleberg was called upon quite often this season for the Lightning as, at times, they were thin along the blueline due to injuries. Lilleberg made his NHL debut on January 6th against the Boston Bruins, not shying away from being physical, despite it being his first NHL game. Three days later, Lilleberg notched his first career point with an assist against the Los Angeles Kings. Lilleberg finished the season with five assists, which was to be expected as it was his first year pro in North America. Lilleberg could have a bigger role to play next season with the Lightning. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, he will be a big, physical body along the blueline should he crack the lineup come October. Lilleberg is expected to have a better season, whether it is with the Syracuse Crunch or Lightning, now that he has had time to adjust to a different style of game.

Paquette-Bisson started his professional hockey career in the ECHL with the Cincinnati Cyclones. In his first season, the 6-foot-3 defenseman tallied four goals and 28 points through 70 regular season games and a +15 goal differential. Through 11 games in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Paquette-Bisson added three more points (2g-1a). In two seasons in the ECHL, Paquette-Bison has 132 games played, 12 goals, and 38 assists with a +24 goal differential. He earned a contract with the Laval Rocket in the 2020-21 season and played two seasons before signing with the Ontario Reign for the 2022-23 season. He would return to Laval and become assistant captain of the team. In 214 games in the American Hockey League, Paquette-Bisson has 17 goals and 69 points and a +37. The left-shot defenseman is very versatile as he is able to play on the left and right side of the blueline. Being able to switch sides from on to the off-hand side makes it easier to place him with any other defenseman on the Crunch. This will help when he is back covering due to his partner pinching or cutting across to cut off the attackers angle.

Pouliot will bring a veteran presence to the Crunch. He was drafted eighth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pouliot was part of the Penguins roster that won the first of their back-to-back Stanley Cups. He was also selected for the AHL All-Star Game three consecutive seasons (2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17). The 30-year-old has 564 games of experience between the NHL and AHL. His journey has been a long one, as he has been on 13 teams throughout his career, making Syracuse his 14th. Most recently, Pouliot was a member of the Dallas Stars organization, where he played 5 games with the Stars, and 64 games with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. Pouliot notched nine goals and 37 assists for 46 points with Texas and went a +4 in goal differential. Throughout his AHL career, Pouliot has recorded 340 games played with 45 goals and 168 assists for 213 points. His 226 NHL games played will allow him to mentor the younger players on the Crunch. Through those 226 games, Pouliot has eight goals and 46 assists for 54 points.

Santini was the final defenseman signed in this announcement. He will also bring a ton of veteran experience to the Crunch as he has seen 303 games in the AHL with the Albany Devils, Binghamton Devils, Milwaukee Admirals, Utica Comets, Springfield Thunderbirds, and Reign, along with 123 in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues. He does not produce much offensively as he has 15 goals and 55 assists in the AHL and five goals and 18 assists at the NHL level. Despite a lack of offensive production, the 29-year-old has been a solid defensive-defenseman throughout his career as he has a goal differential of +36 between the NHL and AHL. Santini plays a physical style and is a solid shutdown defenseman. He will be a great choice to put out against team’s top players to prevent easy chances.

Ylonen will enter his fifth year of professional hockey in North America. The 2018 35th overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens has spent the last four seasons in the Canadiens organization, splitting time between the Canadiens and Rocket. Despite notching just 29 points (12g-17a) in 111 games in the NHL, he can still be a solid winger for the Lightning in a bottom-six role. While his defensive zone awareness and secondary puck battle are good, there is still room to grow for him, and I do think he will grow in those two areas paired with the likes of Luke Glendening on the fourth line, who was a workhorse for the Lightning on the fourth line and on the penalty kill.

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
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
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  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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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