The Tampa Bay Lightning were 18-26-4 in lock-out shortened 48-game season last year, the head coach was fired and the captain is now gone.
What is the outlook going into this season…
The one bright spot from last year was the offense. The Bolts ranked third in the league in goals scored. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos battled for the scoring title. The question now is where will the second line scoring come from now that Vincent Lecavalier is gone? It will be up to Teddy Purcell to get back to his 20-plus-goals form. Purcell was third in scoring on the team with 11-goals and 25-assists.
The 18-year-old wunderkind Jonathan Drouin, taken No. 3 overall last summer, will try and prove he’s NHL ready. Cooper has called Drouin’s skillset at “jaw-dropping.”
The Lightning scored a 148-goals last season but they let in 150-goals. The defense and goaltending were awful. Even if the Bolts were average in net they would have a goal +/- differential of +26 which would have ranked them seconded in the Eastern Conference.
Anders Lindback was supposed to come to Tampa and become the starter for the next five years, but instead the giant was shaky at best. The Lightning were forced to trade rookie of the year candidate Cory Conacher to Ottawa for Ben Bishop. In nine games Bishop was 3-4-1-1 with one shutout. Now the Bolts have two giants in net but one has to emerge as a legitimate starter.
On March 26th Jon Cooper took over a team spiraling out of control. Cooper had a 16-game training camp to implement his system. With Lecavalier gone as well, look for a different feel in the locker room. Cooper should be able to hit the ground running this season and improve the defensive schemes in Tampa.
The general manager of the Lightning, Steve Yzerman could be the one on the hot-seat if the Bolts don’t make the playoffs. The salary cap era in the NHL is tough but Yzerman is on his second coach and entering year four of his tenure. There appears to be more questions than answers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and a new GM might be in order. On the other hand if the Lightning make the playoffs and the goaltending is improved Yzerman looks like a genius.
Tampa Bay Lightning Offseason Moves
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