Summer Skate: Lightning

Healthy Stamkos, key offseason additions make Tampa Bay Cup contender

Originally Published: August 22, 2014
By Matthew Coller | Hockey Prospectus

Patrice Bergeron, Steven StamkosScott Audette/NHLI/Getty ImagesSteven Stamkos' play will be pivotal as the Lightning attempt to unseat the Bruins atop the East.

Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the leaguewide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.

Heading into the 2014 postseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning were a strong contender in the East. Then, Ben Bishop went down with an injury and they were quickly dispatched in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.

General manager Steve Yzerman spent the offseason shoring up Tampa Bay's remaining weaknesses by signing defenseman Anton Stralman, trading for Jason Garrison, signing gritty forward Brian Boyle and re-signing Ryan Callahan. They also added a decent backup netminder in Evgeni Nabokov ... just in case.

With an embarrassment of riches at forward and even more coming through the pipeline -- they have the NHL's No. 2 system, according to ESPN Insider Corey Pronman -- the Lightning should be included in the class of favorites to win the East in 2014-15. A healthy Steven Stamkos will be joined by up-and-comers like Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin, which should push their top-nine forward group into the top tier of the NHL.


Trending up: Steven Stamkos, F