USATSI_9307062_154158418_lowresThe Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Alex Killorn to a seven-year contract worth an average annual value of $4.45 million.

Tampa announced the deal on Sunday. Killorn was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Wednesday.

“We’re very comfortable doing a long-term contract at the right cap number with Alex,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. “He’s been with us his entire career. He’s a high-character young man, tremendously fit, and part of the core of our team. We’re trying to keep the core together as much as we can.”

The 26-year-old restricted free agent is a big part of Tampa’s plans and he joins Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman as among the recently-signed components. The Lightning still have restricted free agents Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov to contend with, with Namestnikov set for arbitration near the end of the month.

In 81 regular season games during the 2015-2016 season, Killorn had 40 points – including 14 goals. He was a dynamo in the playoffs, where he put up 13 points in 17 games and joined Kucherov and Tyler Johnson to create one of the most effective lines in the sport.

Killorn was a third round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The Halifax native has blossomed into one of Tampa’s most effective playoff performers, with a total of 33 points in 47 post-season games. He is slightly less consistent in the regular season, with 138 points in 272 games. His best season to date came in 2013-2014 when he amassed 41 points in 82 games.

Killorn gives Tampa a sizable, versatile presence up front. He can muck it up in all situations and plays a strong two-way game, even if his scoring touch isn’t on the same level as his linemates. He’s still a valuable piece of the puzzle, as he can get into the tough areas. There is some argument for better use of his frame, but these details can come in time.

For now, Tampa has another critical element locked up and that’s a good thing. Yzerman’s stated goal of ironing out the nucleus of the franchise appears to be working out well, even if there are still other items on his to-do list.

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