2014 – 2015 TEAM PREVIEW: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:41 am by Nation World HQ

Stamkos-Steven-2-Lightning-2014

The Tampa Bay Lightning were back in the playoffs in 2013-14
after missing the postseason in the two previous years. To date, they have 16/1
odds to win the Stanley Cup, 10th best odds in
the NHL.

Additions:                                         Subtractions:

Brian Boyle – C                                  Anders
Lindback – G

Anton Stralman – D
                           Sami Salo – D

Evgeni Nabokov – G                           Pierre-Cedric
Labrie – LW

Jason Garrison – D                             Ryan
Malone – RW

Brenden Morrow – LW                        Mike
Kostka – D

Mike Blunden – RW                            Keith
Aulie – D

                                                           Tom
Pyatt – LW

Drouin-Jonathan-1-Lightning-2014

The Lightning are led by captain Steven Stamkos, who missed
45 games last season with a broken right tibia. He miraculously returned for
the final 20 games of the season, where he unsurprisingly scored 11 goals (6
PPG) and 17 points. The NHL’s most pure goal scorer will be at 100 per cent to
start training camp and is the pre-season favourite to win the Maurice “Rocket”
Richard Trophy. Stamkos will be joined by 2013 third overall pick Jonathan Drouin, who narrowly missed making the team last year. Drouin, 19, has
electrifying hands and great on-ice vision that should allow him to contribute
right away. His 108 points (29G / 79A) ranked him third in the QMJHL, despite
him missed 21 games.

Two 2013-14 rookie of the year finalists Ondrej Palat and
Tyler Johnson will be expected to take on bigger roles this season as well.
Palat, 23, was a seventh round pick in 2011. He has scored at every level, so
last season was no fluke, and another season with mid-20′s goal production
should be expected. As for Johnson, he was undrafted and undersized (5-foot-9 –
182lbs) but played very well in his rookie campaign. In the 45 games that
Stamkos missed, Johnson scored 14 goals and 17 assists (31 points) and later
added 12 points in 20 games while playing with Stamkos. He has a shot to land a
spot on his wing again this season, making him a definite candidate for 25-plus
goals.

Veterans Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan round-out a
solid group of forwards. Filppula is a stable second-line centre, who set a
career high with 25 goals in his first year with the Lightning. He’ll be a key
part of Tampa’s success as a provides secondary scoring and handles the point
on the power-play. Callahan, 29, signed a six-year, $34.8 million dollar deal
this offseason and has averaged 24 goals and 22 assists per 82 games.

Hedman-Victor-1-Lightning-2014

On the blueline the Lightning also possess a few great options.
Victor Hedman, 23, finally had his breakout season in 2013-14. He tallied 13
goals and 42 assists (55 points) in 75 games. The 2009 second overall pick was
a solid contributor prior to last season, but now that the previously untapped
potential has been tapped, Hedman is a top-end NHL defensemen. This summer the
Lightning signed former Panther and Canuck D-man Jason Garrison. The
29-year-old defenseman has an absolute bomb from the point and will be a huge
help to the Lightning power-play. Garrison averaged 20:54 TOI with the Canucks
last season, but his shooting percentage was down from his career 6.5 to 3.9, which led to just seven goals (4 PPG) in 81 games. He is sure
to rank near the top in shots on goal for defensemen and if his shooting
percentage bumps back up to the norm, expect 10-15 goals. Matt Carle, 29, is
also still in Tampa Bay. He didn’t miss a game for the fourth straight season
and recorded at least 30 points for the fourth straight 82-game season.

Bishop-Ben-2-Lightning-2014

In his first season as an NHL number-1, Ben Bishop won 37
games with a 2.23 GAA and .924 SV% with five shutouts. He enters 2014-15 locked
into the starting role. With a boatload of fire-power in front of him, a second
straight 35-plus win season should be on its way. He will have 39-year-old
Evegeni Nabokov as his back-up this season. The veteran netminder should only
help grow Bishop’s game.

Season prediction: Stamkos and Bishop will lead the
Lightning to first place in the Atlantic Division, their first division title
since they won the Stanley Cup in 2003-04.

View the Lightning’s entire roster and cap space heading
into the 2014 – 2015 season

View the Lightning’s potential line combinations heading
into the 2014-15 season at Dailyfaceoff.com

Other team previews: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild