Tampa Bay Lightning ink Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak

Tampa Bay took care of its own as NHL free agency opened on Wednesday.

The Lightning signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to an eight-year, $68 million extension, forward Anthony Cirelli to an eight-year, $50 million contract and defenseman Erik Cernak to an eight-year, $41.6 million deal.

All three players are entering the final year of their current contracts. Tampa Bay's allocation of assets toward the future indicates the Lightning are unlikely to resign UFA forward Ondrej Palat, who is now officially on the open market.

Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois didn't have ample cap space to work with before trading Ryan McDonagh to Nashville earlier this month. Instead of shopping around, BriseBois invested in players who played key roles for the Lightning as they won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021 and appeared in the most recent Cup Final.

Sergachev was drafted ninth overall by Montreal in 2016 prior to being traded to Tampa Bay in June 2017. He's developed into a solid puck-moving defender who is still growing into his game at both ends of the ice. The 24-year-old netted seven goals and 38 points in 78 games a season ago.

Cirelli, 24, has been a reliable shutdown center for the Lightning and one of the league's best defensive forwards, combining a high-end offensive skill set with good forechecking ability. He had 17 goals and 43 points in 76 games last season.

Cernak, 25, is a true defensive defenseman who anchors Tampa Bay's blue line against an opponent's top talent. He's coming off a 13-point season in 55 games last year.

The Lightning also made a few smaller deals Wednesday. They signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a one-year, $2.5 million deal and defenseman Ian Cole to a $3 million deal.

Namestnikov had three goals and five points in 15 regular-season games for Dallas, helping the Stars secure the No. 1 wild-card slot in the Western Conference. Cole had 19 points in 75 games for the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay now has most of its core intact for the foreseeable future, and its window as a potential Cup contender remains wide open.