TAMPA — The Lightning saw Yanni Gourde grow from an undersized project to the motor of a championship team.
Wednesday night, Tampa Bay had to part ways with another key piece of its back-to-back Stanley Cup title teams, as the expansion Seattle Kraken chose the 29-year-old Gourde to be one of the franchise’s building blocks.
The Kraken, who selected one player from each team except Vegas, had their choice of several key pieces from the Lightning’s title teams, including Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Ross Colton and Mathieu Joseph.
They selected Gourde, whose non-stop energy and relentless pursuit for the puck set the tone for his teammates on the team’s third forward line. Gourde also played on the Lightning’s second-team power play unit.
Gourde scored 13 goals over the past two postseasons, including four game-winners. He netted the only goal in the Lightning’s Game 7 win over the Islanders in the semifinals, his tip in front of the net in Game 1 of the final turned out to be the game-winner, and he put a marvelous move on New York defenseman Andy Greene in open ice to help open the floodgates in the 8-0 rout over the Islanders in Game 5 of the semifinals.
#GoBolts’ Gourde is heading to #SeaKraken. You can’t say this wasn’t expected on the #TBLightning front pic.twitter.com/rF1TQ4albp
— 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚒 𝙵𝚊𝚒𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚘 (@faiello_mari) July 22, 2021
“There’s never a dull moment on the ice with him,” linemate…