|Purcell got to flash that toothless smile a personal record number of times last season. (Getty Images)|
The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the league's more unheralded players on their roster in Teddy Purcell -- and they made sure to keep him around long enough until he gets his due recognition, signing him to a new three-year contract extension to remain in the Bay Area.
Purcell does have one more season on his current contract that calls for him to earn $2.375 million before he would have become an unrestricted free agent.
Just as you'd expect, Purcell is getting a nice raise. Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports that Purcell will get $13.5 million over three seasons for an average of $4.5 million per season.
Purcell has really blossomed since coming to the Lightning from the Kings in the 2009-10 season. Given a chance to play regular top-six minutes, he has found his game. He is coming off a career season when he scored 24 goals and had 41 assists in 81 games. That was on the heels of posting 17 points in 18 playoff games as the Bolts reached the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago.
Perhaps it is because the Lightning struggled this season and Steven Stamkos takes most of the headlines for the Bolts, but Purcell is a player that doesn't get quite the amount of attention he deserves at this point.
His profile was raised with an excellent stretch of hockey this past season. Between February and March, Purcell had at least one point in 15 of 16 games. In that run he had 27 points total, seven coming by way of goals. Overall, he finished third on the Lightning with 65 points while playing mostly on the second line.
He really found himself a comfort spot on the power play. Purcell was second to only Stamkos on the team with eight goals coming on the man advantage.
For you advanced-stat heads out there, you will probably really like this part. Almost every teammate had a higher Even Strength Corsi (via @ngreenberg) with Purcell on the ice with them than without him. Translated very simply: The team plays better -- controls the play more -- when Purcell is on the ice.
It's pretty easy to see why Steve Yzerman would want to keep Purcell around through his prime late-20s seasons.