Tampa Bay Lightning Report Cards: Forwards

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If there’s one thing people know about the Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s this: they can score. Usually, that notion revolves around the idea that Steven Stamkos can score goals in his sleep. But the truth is, the Lightning have a number of scoring threats throughout the lineup. Most of the league, however, has no idea who these guys are. That’s a good thing.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Stamkos went down in November with a broken leg, the team’s scoring suffered, as expected. But from that dire situation came the emergence of a new wave of Lightning talent. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat manned a line with Martin St. Louis and provided enough offensive punch for the Lightning to get by. Valtteri Filppula had what was arguably the best year of his career. And of course, it didn’t hurt that the blue liners, particularly Victor Hedman, were chipping in pretty frequently.

As we focus in on the Lightning forwards, if you’re not familiar with the team, you probably won’t see a lot of names you recognize. You’ll recognize Stamkos certainly. But the Lightning proved they were a lot more than a one-man team this year. Their development accelerated in the wake of Stamkos’s injury. The future looks bright.

Let’s take a look at the forwards, player by player. I’ll give report cards for players who remain with the team and have played twenty games or more. For fun, I’ll also include my pre-season forecasts. Keep in mind, these grades are for the regular season only.

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  • Kara

    A very thoughtful and well written assessment of the Lightning forwards that virtually mirrored my thoughts (and gave some new ones). Outstanding and a joy to read. Honestly, I hope that most of what you forecast comes to fruition.
    And to add, sometimes it’s great to “dwell” under the radar of the NHL and other teams, as it makes winning is so much sweeter. HOWEVER, as a double edged sword, like you, I believe Palat fit the criteria (and spirit) the most for the Calder award, but he will likely be overlooked because…well, “Tampa Bay is only an expansion team, apparently there to take up space and be available for the Boston Goons and other teams to beat up on.” So, unless he’s playing on an original team, he just can’t be that good.
    Everything’s almost in place and I believe with minimal trading in the off season, this team will (again) show this hockey league exactly what an (expansion) team is capable of. Hold on to your hats, because this is going to be a fun ride next season!