The training camps in the NHL in preparation for the 2021/22 season will begin in mid-September. Starting August 16, NHL.com will take a closer look at every team in the league in Series 32 in 32. The inventory includes the most important personnel changes, the key players, the strengths and weaknesses as well as the playoff chances of the clubs.
In this issue: Tampa Bay Lightning
There have been some personnel changes at the Lightning in the offseason. Above all, these were necessary in order to get below the upper salary limit through noticeable savings on the expenditure side.
The cuts in the squad were deep. With Barclay Goodrow (to the New York Rangers), Yanni Gourde (Seattle Kraken) and Blake Coleman (Calgary Flames) the reigning Stanley Cup champion lost his entire third storm row. The variable attacker is also no longer part of the game Tyler Johnson. He’s going to play for the Chicago Blackhawks.
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On the defensive there was one David Savard (Montreal Canadiens) and Luke Schenn (Vancouver Canucks) also two well-known departures. Then there was goalkeeper Curtis McElhinney, who has been number two between the posts for the past two years. He is currently without a new employer.
The gaps are to be closed by young players from within our own ranks and a few external newcomers with experience. The attackers belong to the latter category Corey Perry (most recently Canadiens) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Colorado Avalanche). New backup for regular goalkeepers Andrei Vasilevskiy becomes the one washed with all waters Brian Elliott (Philadelphia Flyers). And with a defense attorney Zach Bogosian (Toronto Maple Leafs) an old friend returns to Tampa.
The key players
The team’s top formations remained unaffected by the transfer process. Goalie Vasilevskiy, the Blueliner Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak as well as the attackers Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point are all still under contract for several years and form the framework for the attempt at the third Stanley Cup triumph in a row.
Point extended his employment relationship with the Lightning early in the summer by eight years. The 25-year-old center was the outstanding man in the attack department last season. With 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) from 56 games, he was the top scorer in the team. In the playoffs he collected 23 points (14 goals, nine assists) in 23 appearances. This put him in second place in the overall postseason ranking behind Kucherov (32 points) and ahead of Stamkos (18).
Video: The top 10 moves from Kucherov’s playoff run
With Vasilevskiy, the Lightning have had strong support for years. With outstanding performances he laid the foundation stone for the two championships in 2020 and 2021. In the past season he was in 42 games (31-10-1) between the posts. His catch quota was 92.5 percent, the goal average (GAA) was 2.21. He kept his box clean five times. In the playoffs, he even improved these values again. He guarded the goal in all 23 games and had a catch rate of 93.7 percent and a GAA of 1.90. He also got five shutouts. He deservedly received the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs.
When it comes to offensive power, the Lightning will probably not have to worry too much in the coming years. The organization has several young people who have what it takes to play a good role in the NHL. Has already made the jump Ross Colton. He had a remarkable rookie season with twelve points from 30 games and knew how to please in the playoffs with four goals and two assists in 23 appearances.
There will be a good chance of securing a permanent place in the squad in the training camp Alex Barre-Boulet granted. In 2020/21 he scored three goals in 15 games for the Lightning and twelve points in ten games for Syracuse in the AHL.
With Taylor Raddish and Boris Katchouk two more talented strikers scratch their hooves. Raddysh scored 29 points in 27 games for Syracuse last season. Katchouk was the most successful scorer there with 34 points from 29 missions.
The Lightning impress with their top level in all areas. The showpiece, however, is the offensive involving Captain Stamkos, Kucherov and Point. She is always able to heat up an opponent in such a way that he loses his hearing and seeing. Tampa Bay also has one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Vasilevskiy. The attacking defender Hedman deserves the same title. The special teams are also a force, even if they did not rank at the top of the NHL overall standings in 2020/21 with a success rate of 22.2 percent in power play and 84.2 percent in penalty killing.
Video: Vasilevskiy’s best saves take a long time to watch
A big question will be whether and how much the departure of the powerful shutdown series Goodrow, Gourde and Coleman affects. She has been a major contributor to the Lightning’s recent successes. With Pat Maroon, Bellemare and Perry are at least three warriors ready, from whose circle, together with one or the other young actor, a worthy successor trio can be put together. Successful coach Jon Cooper has probably already worked out a corresponding plan.
The Lightning are once again among the title favorites. If they are spared from injuries to their stars, they could become the first team since the early 1980s to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in a row. The New York Islanders lifted the trophy four times in a row between 1980 and 1983.