Tampa Bay Lightning Season Forecast: Forward Edition

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Sep 20, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) takes a shot as St. Louis Blues defenseman Ryan Whitney (6) defends during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Lightning defeated the Blues 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

#9 Tyler Johnson (rookie)
2013 (NHL): 14-3-3-6
2013 (AHL): 62-37-28-65

The biggest story in Tampa Bay’s preseason was the emergence of Tyler Johnson’s line with Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik. You can call them the Syracuse line, the Tampacuse line, or the Gun line, whatever you want, but they’ll start the season as Tampa Bay’s third line.

Johnson is coming off a magical AHL campaign in which he was named the league’s MVP. While former-Lightning Cory Conacher drew a lot of comparisons to Martin St. Louis, those comparisons were never warranted – Conacher’s style of play is completely dissimilar to St. Louis’s. Johnson, on the other hand, is cut from the same mould – he’s an undrafted, smooth-skating, creative player that plays with a lot of heart, but without Conacher’s crash-and-bang style.

Concerns about his size have haunted Johnson throughout his hockey career, and there will be more questions about his size as he transitions to an NHL regular. But Johnson has had plenty of answers for those questions so far.

 

What he provides: Two-way play and good depth scoring.

Where he’ll play: 3rd Line Center, PK Duty, occasional 2nd Line duty, occasional PP Duty.

Best case scenario: 50 points, Calder nomination, and a Lightning third line that can play 15 minutes per night.

Worst case scenario: Strength issues, consistency issues, and a demotion to the AHL.

Forecast: A solid 35-40 point season.

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