Jake Guentzel signs autographs for fans after a Da Beauty League game at Braemar Arena in 2023. LPH PHOTO BY JEFF ANDERSON

Guentzel’s signs $63 million deal with Tampa Bay Lightning

Former Hill-Murray and University fo Nebraska-Omaha star Jake Guentzel signed a 7-year $63 million contract last week with the Tampa Bay Lightning, putting him in the upper echelon of top-paid forwards in the NHL.

Guentzel’s deal will give him an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $9 million per year.

Guentzel, the son of former Gopher assistant coach Mike Guentzel, has come a long way since his youth hockey and high school playing days in Minnesota and could have become an unrestricted free agent as of noon Monday, July 1 had Tampa Bay not signed him. Tampa Bay’s urgency to obtain Guentzel from Carolina and the length and value of his contract proves Guentzel was one of the more sought-after players in the league. Before playing at Hill-Murray, Guentzel played in the Woodbury Hockey Association.

Guentzel played two seasons with Hill-Murray in 2010-11 and 2011-12. He scored 19 goals and added 30 assists in his first season as a sophomore. He tallied 23-52-75 in 2011-12. The following year he played a full season with Sioux City in the USHL and posted 29 goals and 44 assists in 60 games. He was drafted that same season in the third round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 77th overall.

Guentzel went on to have a solid career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, scoring 40 goals and adding 79 assists in three seasons. In 2016-17 he played 44 games in the American Hockey League with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before being called up to Pittsburgh where he had immediate success with 16 goals and 33 points in 40 games. But it was that year’s playoffs where Guentzel’s game elevated to the next level. Skating on a line with Sidney Crosby, Guentzel had 13 goals in the playoffs helping lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup title.

The following season he played in all of the team’s 82 games and had 22 goals and 26 assists and once again shined in the playoffs with 21 points in just 12 games. In 2018-19 he had his first 40-goal season and became a reliable scorer for the Penguins, notching 40 goals a second time in 2021-22.

This past season, with free agency looming, Guentzel was traded to Carolina where he finished with 25 points in 17 games and had nine points in 11 playoff games before Carolina was eliminated. The Lightning then acquired Guentzel’s rights in a trade with Carolina, sending a third-round pick and then penning him to the 7-year deal.



Jake Guentzel, pictured with his dad, Mike, after bringing the Stanley Cup back to Minnesota after winning it in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. LPH PHOTO BY MIKE THILL

Guentzel said he is excited to join the Lightning. He said the organizations winning culture is one of the reasons why he decided to sign.

“The pedigree behind Tampa bay and the winning culture,” he said. “Just a lot of high end players. For me, I’m just really excited for the opportunity to play with these guys.”

There is a strong probability Guentzel will be linemates with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov led the NHL with 144 points last season and Point notched 90 points, including 46 goals. With Guentzel’s strong track record of being able to score goals, it could make Tampa Bay’s top line one of the top scoring lines in all of hockey, if not the top.

Jake Guentzel Career NHL  Stats (www.hockey-reference.com)

8 yrsPITNHL5032192474665322417048131182641144015.22456965419:1213415945.7267588241198
1 yrCARNHL178172516871009805315.110529717:301420.0712123
Career8 yrsNHL5202272644916923217749131191721149315.22561995119:0813516345.3274600253201
Guentzel has also proven he is a 200-foot player, evidenced by his +69 rating in his career, including a +25 mark last season.

“I’m a really competitive guy,” Guentzel said. “I’m not the biggest guy out there, but I’m going to do everything in my power to get to the front of the net and go to the hard areas and make some plays.”

Tampa Bay won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. Shortly after Guentzel’s signing it was reported longtime Lightning star Steven Stamkos had signed with Nashville.

Guentzel has eight NHL seasons under his belt and has a strong playoff pedigree, scoring 67 points in 69 career playoff games. In the regular season he has 491 points in 520 career games, on pace, if he stays healthy, to reach the 1,000 games played and 1,000-point club by the time his contract with Tampa Bay runs out. He said his experience playing with the likes of Sidney Crosby and other top players  has taught him a lot about competing and winning at the highest level.

“I’ve learned from good leaders and what it takes to win,” he said. “I have been fortunate to be alongside people who have been through a lot and won a lot.”

In the meantime, the product of Woodbury Youth Hockey and former Hill-Murray star is excited for him and his family to move to the Gulf Coast area and to get started with his new team.

“This is really exciting time for me and my family and can’t wait for the season to start,” he said.