Yanni Gourde, LW
Hometown: Saint-Narcisse, QC, Canada
January 2018 – After signing a prove-it contract with the Lightning in the summer of 2017, Gourde was put in a position to succeed by John Cooper and hasn’t disappointed. The Lightning have been an offensive juggernaut largely in part due to their sustained attack through the entire lineup. Gourde has been an important finisher in the middle of the lineup and has certainly done himself a favor in terms of contract negotiations that could take place as early as July 1st, 2018. His current contract expires at the same time as RFA’s Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Jake Dotchin, however if his NHL breakout continues, Gourde may opt to test the unrestricted free agent market. Brayden Olafson
November 2017 – Entering the Lightning fall camp as a center man, Gourde has quickly found himself cozied up on the right-wing of Brayden Point in Tampa Bay's highly potent top-6. The assignment has helped Gourde to improve significantly on the offensive side of things, all the while retaining the defensive aspect of his game and earning significant minutes night-in and night-out. Although Gourde appears to be an offensive beneficiary of his line-mates, their chemistry thus far appears to be strong enough that we won't see any kind of shuffling any time soon. In terms of a forward on a shut-down line, Gourde's physical statistics are still on the low side of things, however, if you're looking for purely point production – there's enough evidence to suggest his improvement could be somewhat sustainable. At his current pace, Gourde would finish with 53 points on the campaign, however 40-45 is probably a more realistic long-term and permanent expectation. Brayden Olafson
June 2017 – Yzerman didn’t waste any time getting to work after the 2017 draft, immediately inking Yanni to a new 2-year contract with an AAV of $1 million. Gourde had been eligible to negotiate a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights during their exclusive free agent window and was heading into his first opportunity as an unrestricted free agent. This bridge deal was perfectly appropriate for Gourde and will provide him with an excellent opportunity with the Lightning’s bottom-6 to prove that he deserves more on his next one. Brayden Olafson
June 2017 – A very good Syracuse Crunch team closed out their season in a loss to the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday night. Their run to the finals was largely, in part, due to the success of Gourde, who finished second only to linemate Cory Conacher in AHL playoff scoring. His 27 points in 22 games against the league's best should perk up some ears in the Lightning offices, where the decision must be made on whether or not to retain the undersized UFA going into his 26-year old season. Yanni would almost certainly be available on a short-term, and cap-friendly contract and could provide significant value for the Lightning if given the right opportunity. The Lightning roster is already heavily loaded on the left side, however, salary cap and expansion implications could easily create a void in the top-9. Brayden Olafson
May 2017 – The Syracuse Crunch are out to a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series of the AHL playoffs against the Toronto Marlies largely due to the roles being played by veteran players. Gourde, who spent significant time with the Lightning this season has slotted in on a line with the Crunch leading scorer, Cory Conacher, and found instant chemistry upon his return. In his 20-game stint with the Lightning, he was able to bury six goals and notch two assists. The 25-year old is a fringe player in the NHL, and he'll have to continue to prove that he can overcome his size disadvantage in order to become a fixture in the Lightning bottom-six. Brayden Olafson
April 2017 – Gourde has taken full advantage of his NHL call-up to round out the 2016-17 campaign with the Lightning. After earning two points in his first 10 contests of this stint, the 25-year-old went on a three-game goal scoring streak. He extended his point streak with an assist in the following game against Dallas and was finally shut down two nights later in Boston. Playing very significant minutes with the big club, we could be seeing John Cooper grooming the pivot for a full-time roll in the fall with the absence of a soon-to-be Vegas Golden Knight. Brayden Olafson
January 2017 – After a brief call-up at the end of December, Gourde was returned to Syracuse where he continues to be successful at the AHL level, as he is currently second in team scoring. Gourde’s skill has yet to show signs of translating to the NHL game though. At 25 years old, and as the organizations depth chart stands, it will remain difficult for Gourde to make any kind of a fantasy impact, even in the deepest of leagues. Brayden Olafson
September 2016 – After playing two games in the majors and scoring his first NHL point last season, Yanni Gourde will be continuing to improve his impressive speed and hands this year in order to gain more time with the parent club. His skilled play makes him a danger on the ice, but his lack of size and aggression hinder his future NHL hopes. Max Marko
June 2015 – Gourde has been an excellent fit in Syracuse, finishing his first full season with the team second in scoring with 57 points (29 goals, 28 assists), 61 PIM, plus-13, and another two points in three playoff games. The undersized forward has been a prolific scorer at all levels of play and seems to be a good match for the Lightning organization’s fast-paced style of hockey. Despite his small stature, Gourde is no stranger to physical play and fighting, and consistently racks up penalty minutes to add extra value to his natural offensive abilities. Gourde will return to the AHL club next year and should earn call-ups to the Lightning when injuries warrant.
Gourde signed a two-year contract with Tampa Bay prior to the 2014-15 season, after finishing a one-year deal before that. A lifelong scorer, he was named QMJHL MVP in 2011-2012 after notching 124 points in 68 games. His adjustment to the AHL was not immediate, but he improved each season from 14 points in 54 games in 2012-13, to 32 points in 43 games in 2013-14, and finally to 57 points in 76 in 2014-15. His small size and weight seem to be the only thing keeping him from receiving NHL call-ups, so Gourde’s future will depend on him outplaying his competition within the organization. Hayden Soboleski
Fantasy Outlook: B+
A very skilled but very small player who will have to rely on injuries in the big club to get any sort of opportunity. His window of youth is closing and the Lightning are quickly restocking their pool of very skilled younger players.
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