TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year contract worth $2.95 million AAV, as well as fellow blue-liner Jan Rutta for two years worth an AAV of $1.3 million, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Cernak, 23, skated in 67 games with the Lightning during the 2019-20 regular season, posting five goals and 12 points to go along with 59 penalty minutes and a +11 rating. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound defenseman ranked second on the team for both hits (172) and penalty minutes. He also appeared in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games, registering four assists and 12 penalty minutes. Cernak ranked fourth among all Lightning defensemen for average time on ice per game during the postseason (20:43).
The Kosice, Slovakia native has played in 125 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over the past two seasons, recording 10 goals and 28 points to go along with a +36 rating and 117 penalty minutes. Cernak has also skated in 29 playoff games, notching seven points and 12 penalty minutes.
Cernak was acquired by the Lightning along with goaltender Peter Budaj, a 2017 seventh-round draft pick and a conditional selection in 2017 from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Ben Bishop and a fifth-round pick on February 26, 2017.
Rutta, 6-foot-3, 204 pounds, played in 33 regular season games with the Lightning in 2019-20, recording a goal and seven points with a plus-6 rating. He skated in five Stanley Cup Playoff games and notched one assist in route to winning the Stanley Cup.
A native of Pisek, Czech Republic, Rutta has appeared in 127 career NHL games with Tampa Bay and the Chicago Blackhawks. He has registered nine goals and 35 points, including two power play goals. Rutta has played in nine career postseason games, all with the Lightning, and recorded three assists.
Rutta was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks along with a seventh-round pick in 2019 on January 11, 2019 in exchange for D Slater Koekkoek and a fifth-round pick in 2019. He was originally undrafted.