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Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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Lightning makes qualifying offers to four restricted free agents

Three days after Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he hoped to re-sign all of the team's restricted free agents, the team issued qualifying offers to all four players, including forwards J.T. Miller and Cedric Paquette.

By issuing the qualifying offers, the Lightning is now protected with a right of first refusal or draft pick compensation should any of the players choose to sign an offer sheet with another NHL team.

RELATED: Undersized forward leads Lightning's 2018 draft class

Financial terms were not disclosed, but here are the four who were given qualifying offers:

•  C J.T. Miller, 25, was acquired from the Rangers in February, along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He had 10 goals and eight assists in 19 regular-season games as one of the team's top scorers after coming to Tampa Bay, then had two goals and six assists in 17 playoff games.

•  C Cedric Paquette, 24, has played four full seasons with the Lightning as one of the team's top defensive forwards, often tasked with neutralizing an opponent's top scoring line. Typically not on the ice to score, he has had modest offensive totals (27 goals, 23 assists) in 236 career games.

•  D Slater Koekkoek, 24, was a first-round pick in 2012 who has played sparingly over the last two seasons. He had four goals and four assists in 35 games in 2017-18, but with the addition of McDonagh, was not active for any of Tampa Bay's playoff games.

•  LW Adam Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and has played with the Lighting in parts of the last two seasons. He had three goals and one assist in 23 regular-season games but did not dress for any playoff games.

Free agency begins Sunday, with the Lightning having about $10.5 million in available salary-cap space. Any outside spending would have to balanced with a desire to keep the team's nucleus intact as key players hit the open market in the next year or two.

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