Mid Summer Report: Tampa Bay Lightning

download (14)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Season’s Finish:  46-31-5, 97 pts, 2nd in the Atlantic Division, lost in the Eastern Conference Final

Key Arrivals:

  • D James Wisniewski (Pro tryout contract)

Key Departures:

  • D Matt Carle (Nashville)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Jonathan Drouin

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/12)

  • F Nikita Kucherov
  • D Nikita Nesterov

Current Cap Situation as of 8/12/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $66,408,333
  • Current salary cap space: $6,591,667

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Bryan Boyle, Vladislav Namestnikov, J.T. Brown, Erik Condra, Jonathan Drouin, Cedric Paquette, Nikita Kucherov
Defensemen
Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Brayden Coburn, Andrej Sustr, Nikita Nesterov, Matt Taormina
Goalies
Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy

 

Outlook:
Tampa Bay is the most stable team in the NHL in terms of player turnover from the 2015-2016 season to the 2016-2017 season.  They wouldn’t have it any other way, either.  Last season, they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Final before bowing out to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They only had one major question mark entering the summer, and that was what pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos would do.  It began to look like he was going to test free agency and possibly leave Tampa Bay, and rumors flew around the league at his possible destination.  There were about a dozen teams who were going to make an offer to land the free agent center.  Ultimately, to the disappointment of 29 fan bases, he decided to stay put in Tampa Bay, and he signed a 8-year deal worth $8.5M per year (average annual value).  Once Stamkos was signed, everything else fell into place.  Every other player on their roster that needed to be signed was a restricted free agent.  At the time of this posting, they still need to sign Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov, and with only about $6.5 million in cap space left, it could be tight, as Kucherov is a major part of the offense in Tampa Bay.  Assuming they eventually signs Kucherov, the Lightning will be a playoff team again this season, and they should be considered on of the Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conference.