Even though the realities of a salary cap prevented the Tampa Bay Lightning from keeping their entire Stanley Cup-winning team together, they were able to bring back two key depth players who helped make it happen.
Tampa Bay re-signed forward Patrick Maroon to a $1.8 million, two-year contract and defenseman Luke Schenn for $900,000 for next season Thursday. Maroon and Schenn were among the newcomers who helped put the Lightning over the top after several years of playoff heartbreak, adding some grit and experience to a talented core.
“I think you need a good mixture of speed and also that kind of grit and physicality,” Schenn said by phone. “Games are tough. They’re grinding in the playoffs, and if you can not get pushed around and even kind of lead the push a little bit, then I think that’s a huge benefit.”
Maroon became the only back-to-back Cup champion in 2019 and 2020 after winning it with his hometown St. Louis Blues the previous season alongside Luke’s brother, Brayden. Maroon is just the eighth player in NHL history to win the Cup in consecutive seasons with different teams and the first to do so in back-to-back years since Claude Lemieux in the mid-1990s.
“I thought last year was something else, but this year was something special,” Maroon said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be on so many good hockey teams, and to go back to back, most people don’t get the chance to play in a Stanley Cup Finals, I got to do it back to back and win.”
The 32-year-old put up six points in the playoffs, including an assist on Blake Coleman’s goal in Game 6 of the Final against Dallas, which was the Cup clincher. Maroon had 23 points in the regular season for Tampa Bay and has 229 over his NHL career.
This is Maroon’s first multiyear deal since the Anaheim Ducks signed him for three seasons back in 2015. He’ll count $900,000 against the salary cap through 2021-22.
Schenn, 30, entered the Lightning’s postseason lineup after an injury to Ryan McDonagh and skated in 11 games on the way to winning the Cup for the first time in his 12-year career. Bringing Schenn back softens the blow of Tampa Bay losing defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian in free agency.
“To go back to the same team where you just won a Stanley Cup, super honored and proud to be a part of that,” Schenn said. “To be in the fold and going back next year, truly grateful. And Patty Maroon was obviously a huge part of winning, too. They got so much speed and skill and I think we both just tried to add a little bit of a different element.”
The Lightning still need to clear cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. They put forward Tyler Johnson on waivers earlier in October, but he and his $5 million cap hit cleared, keeping him with Tampa Bay for now.