Please, Welcome Your Tampa Bay Lightning!!!

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Continuing FanSided’s review of the NHL, Bolts By The Bay is proud to present our heavily opinionated preview for the 2011-12 season… Let’s Go Bolts!!!!

We’ve got some new writers, and we’re all passionate about our points of view; reader discretion is advised. Don’t worry, your kids can read it… no curse words were used in the making of this blog post!!!

Ryan Bristlon

First, let’s cover the essentials. The Bolts didn’t bring in too much new fire power but that’s not to say that the team’s new acquisitions this year aren’t to be given a chance. Here is the breakdown player by player.

Vladislav Namestnikov: This year’s first-round pick for the Lightning, and 27th overall in the NHL, Namestnikov, only 18-years-old, already has history with the team, being the nephew of former Red Wing and teammate of Steve Yzerman, Slava Kozlov.

Despite his size (6-feet, 163lbs.), Namestnikov is considered to be a massive offensive threat. Some analysts predicted he would surely be drafted to Detroit, where he would be considered the second-coming of Pavel Datsyuk – a player who overcame the same physical challenges that Vladislav will surely have to.

But, Tampa seems a more fitting atmosphere for the youngster. The coaching staff there has proven time and time again that they are able to train players in both grit and finesse. It’s noticeable in all players: Lecavalier and St. Louis, over time with the Bolts, have gone from simply finesse and speed to now being able to back-check, body-check, and even fight if need be. On the other end of the fence, players on Tampa known strictly as being gritty and physical, like, say, Ryan Malone, have improved their scoring numbers since joining the club.

Namestnikov is in the right place. His already existing offensive skill will not diminish in training. It will simply be added to, resulting in the creation of another do-anything-necessary forward.

Ryan Shannon: The St. Petersburg Times posted a headline after the signing of Shannon marking him as a “newcomer on the rise”, and with a locker-room spot next to Martin St. Louis, and the advice he must receive on a daily basis, that headline is a pretty safe assumption.

Picked up from the Ottawa Senators – where last season Shannon had 27 points in 79 games – the deal reached is worth $625,000 over one year.

Last season, Shannon wore number 26 because of the inspiration of St. Louis (he will now wear number 22). The similarities don’t end there. Shannon is 5-feet-9 and 175 pounds. St. Louis is 5-feet-8 and 176 pounds. With all that said, don’t expect a complete St. Louis, Jr. Shannon is his own player and his greatest strength is having his head in the game. He sets his goals one game at a time.

His speed has also stirred some rumors, coming from Boucher himself, that say Shannon could see himself on a line with St. Louis and Stamkos before the season is through. Talk about dangerous!

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