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.
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.