Tampa Bay Lightning Re-Sign Defenseman Sean Day to One-Year, Two-Way Contract

June 5, 2023 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Syracuse Crunch News Release

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Sean Day to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. Additionally, the Lightning have signed Finnish free agent forward Waltteri Merelä to a one-year, two-way contract and Norwegian free agent defenseman Emil Martinsen Lilleberg to a two-year, two-way contract.

Day, 25, will enter his fourth season in the Lightning organization in 2023-24. Last season with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, Day skated in 63 games and tallied 14 assists and points, ranking sixth among Crunch defensemen in both categories. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound blueliner also saw action in one game during the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Day made his NHL debut skating in two games with the Lightning during the 2021-22 season. He saw his first NHL action December 28, 2021 versus Montreal and registered 6:43 time on ice. A game later, he recorded two shots in 14:43 at Florida. Day also appeared in 69 games for Syracuse that season, notching eight goals and 40 points to lead all Crunch defensemen for goals, assists (32) and scoring and rank fourth among all Crunch skaters for scoring.

Day has appeared in 223 career AHL games with the Crunch (2020-21 to 2022-23) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (2018-19 to 2019-20), posting 15 goals, 72 assists and 87 points. He was a third-round selection (81st overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2016 NHL Draft. A native of Leuven, Belgium, Day was a free agent signing of the Lightning on July 17, 2020.

Merelä, 24, played for Tappara of the Finnish Elite League, the top professional ice hockey league in Finland, during the 2022-23 season and posted 15 goals and 33 points in 41 regular season contests. The right-shot winger also averaged a point a game in 14 playoff contests, recording eight goals and 14 points to lead the team for goals and rank tied for second for scoring in helping Tappara to its second-straight Liiga championship. In 2021-22, Merelä notched 21 goals and 44 points in 57 regular season games for Tappara, ranking second on the team in both categories. He led Liiga in 2021-22 for plus/minus (+31) and finished tied for fifth for goals and eighth for scoring.

Prior to joining Tappara, Merelä played parts of three seasons with Pelicans of the Finnish Elite League (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21), amassing 17 goals and 46 points in 114 regular season contests. Merelä also saw action in one game for Finland at the 2023 World Championship, scoring a goal in Finland's group play matchup against Hungary.

Lilleberg, 22, skated for IK Oskarshamn of the Swedish Hockey League, the top league in Swedish ice hockey, during the 2022-23 season and notched three goals and 11 points in 46 regular season contests, ranking second among Oskarshamn defensemen for goals and tied for fifth for scoring. The left-shot blueliner added one assist in three playoff contests.

The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Lilleberg has competed for Norway in each of the last three World Championships, registering a goal and 22 penalty minutes over 20 combined games.

Lilleberg was originally a fourth-round selection (107th overall) of the Arizona Coyotes at the 2021 NHL Draft.

Ticket packages for the 2023-24 season are on sale now and can be purchased in person at the Crunch office located inside the Upstate Medical University Arena at Onondaga County War Memorial at 800 S. State St. in Syracuse, by calling the office at 315-473-4444 or online through Ticketmaster. For the latest Crunch news, visit or follow the club on Facebook (, Twitter (@SyracuseCrunch) and Instagram (@syracusecrunch).

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