The Tampa Bay Lightning have had to bid goodbye to a number of players of the years. Some of the players were salary cap casualties, some went searching for opportunities for more playing time, and some were traded away during deadline deals.
So when looking around the NHL, there are enough former Bolts out there to field a salary cap-compliant team all by itself. For the purpose of this list, the players need to be active players in the NHL.
A player like Cédric Paquette, currently playing in the KHL, was not considered for this list. Retired players like Ben Bishop also don’t count.
And once this team is assembled, it’s a competent team that could still win many games in the NHL. In parenthesis are their stats from the 2022-23 season.
Tampa Bay Lightning First Forward Line
- Ondrej Palat (New Jersey – 8 goals, 15 assists)
- Carter Verhaeghe (Florida – 42 goals, 31 assists)
- Jonathan Marchessault (Las Vegas – 28 goals, 29 assists)
Palat was a lifer with the Lightning before signing a big contract with New Jersey this past offseason.
Verhaeghe spent his rookie campaign with Tampa and won the Stanley Cup in 2020 before signing with Florida for an increased opportunity.
Marchessault only played 47 games with Tampa, then signed as a free agent with Florida in 2016. Like Verhaeghe, it wasn’t even a salary cap issue that sent Marchessault away, he wanted the opportunity for increased ice time and was log jammed in Tampa at the time. Florida then inexplicably left him available for the 2017 Expansion Draft; the rest is history.
This could be a very potent line combination that could very easily have all three guys’ top 30 goals if healthy. Palat, for example, was hurt to start the year in New Jersey but showed up in the playoffs as one of the key Devils. Verhaeghe and Marchessault are potential Conn Symth candidates if their respective team goes on to win the Cup this season.
The one draw back to this line the lack of a true center. Marchessault and Verhaeghe have prior experience at the position, but neither were primary faceoff men for this clubs this past season