What does the upcoming season hold in store for the Tampa Bay Lightning and their fans? Here are a few Bold Predictions for the 2018-19 season.
With the preseason starting in a little over a month, it is now time to start thinking more and more about what will unfold in this upcoming season. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up at the top of the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season.
After a heartbreaking end in the Eastern Conference Final, it’s time to build back to success again. And, hopefully, a Stanley Cup this year. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Norris Trophy this year for the best defenseman, and the future is looking bright.
With the hopeful success comes potential big plays and accomplishments for the team. Here are two of my bold predictions for the 2018-2019 season.
Nikita Kucherov will lead the league in points this season.
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov led the team with 100 points in 80 games played last season. Those numbers being third in the league overall, Kucherov is a shoe-in to be in contention for the Ted Lindsay Award.
Over the summer, Kucherov signed an eight-year contract extension that runs through the 2026-2027 season. A year is still remaining on the original contract.
This contract extension is a huge positive for Kucherov and the team as a whole. The fact that the extension was done ahead of time, proves how dedicated Nikita Kucherov is to Tampa Bay and Bolts Nation.
The forward made the NHL All-Star Atlantic team for the second time in his career. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy also made the team from the Bolts. Once Hedman was no longer playing due to an injury, forward Brayden Point was named to the team as well.
Kucherov is expected to be on the Bolts top line to start the season, most likely alongside Stamkos. This will be Kucherov’s sixth season with the Lightning.
Andrei Vasilevskiy Will Win the Vezina Trophy
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finished his first full season as the Lightning’s starting goalie with a .919 save percentage and tied for first with 44 wins. Vasilevskiy was a key component to the deep playoff run for the Bolts and the core of the defense.
Vasilevskiy was drafted in 2012 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and his first start in the NHL was in the 2014-2015 season. The goalie started out as a backup for Ben Bishop. In the 2016-2017 season, Bishop was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, making Vasilevskiy the future of Lightning hockey.
Since then, Vasilevskiy has proved his worth to the Tampa Bay Lightning. With his stats this past season, Vasilevskiy was named a Vezina Trophy finalist. Although he did not win the trophy, I believe that Andrei Vasilevskiy will once again have his chance in the 2018-2019 season.
October 6 is less than two months away, and the season is almost upon us. Many successes are bound to come with the new season, both individually and for the team as a whole.