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Seattle Kraken select former Syracuse Crunch star Yanni Gourde in NHL expansion draft

The Seattle Kraken are turning to sparkplug Yanni Gourde for help in igniting their new franchise.

The Kraken plucked Gourde off the Tampa Bay roster in Thursday night’s NHL expansion draft. The 5-foot-9 forward was integral to the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup the past two seasons with his energetic play and passion for punching above his weight in front of foes’ nets.

Before the undrafted Gourde earned a spot in the Lightning lineup, he gave his career a boost with the Syracuse Crunch. Tampa Bay inked him as an AHL free agent in 2013-14, and he posted 57 and 44 points, respectively for the Crunch in the ensuing two years. His speed, grit and underdog story made him one of the most popular players on the team.

Gourde broke out in 2016-17, putting up 22 goals and 26 helpers in 56 regular season games with Syracuse and then added nine goals and 18 assists in the Crunch’s surge to the Calder Cup finals.

That was Gourde’s last stretch in a Crunch sweater. He scored 25 goals for Tampa Bay in 2017-18 and 22 the following year. This season, he produced 17 goals and 19 assists for the Lighting in 56 regular season games and added six in the playoffs to help Tampa Bay defend its title.