Thursday, September 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 season preview
After superstar Steven Stamkos went down with a season ending injury, the Tampa Bay Lightning missed the playoffs by one point, finishing with 94 of them. To revamp their team, the Lightning traded away Jonathan Drouin. They made some other veteran moves to replace him. Here's a look at those moves.
Notable additions: LW Chris Kunitz, D Dan Girardi, D Mikhail Sergachev, D Jamie McBain, D Mat Bodie
Notable subtractions: F Jonathan Drouin, D Jason Garrison, F Byron Froese, G Kristers Gudlevskis.
Here are my projected forward lines
Chris Kunitz - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Vladislav Namestnikov
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - JT Brown
The entire first line can be very productive when healthy, but "when healthy" are the key words in that line. The triplets are the best non-first line in the league. Point is looking to avoid the soph slump. Erne, the youngster, is trying to beat out Erik Condra, Yanni Gourde, Michal Bournival, Cory Conacher, Gabriel Dumont and Ty McGinn. Long list. Most of those guys will start for Syracuse (AHL), but I think Condra will be the 13th forward.
Here are my projected defensive pairs
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
Mikhail Sergachev - Andrej Sustr
That first pairing led by Hedman, a Norris finalist, is straight fire. Girardi was a nice signing by them. Slater Koekkoek is battling Sergachev, but the former ninth overall pick will win. Also, Jake Dotchin is battling for that spot.
This is a big developmental year for Vasilevskiy. Re-signing Budaj will help, especially since he can be a good mentor to Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning did miss the playoffs last year, but they are still a good team. I predict that they will make the playoffs in 2017-18.