Projecting the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Lines for the 2023-24 Season

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 28: Steven Stamkos #91, Nikita Kucherov #86, and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at the Amalie Arena on December 28, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 28: Steven Stamkos #91, Nikita Kucherov #86, and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at the Amalie Arena on December 28, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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Oct 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Defense Pairings

1st Pairing

Victor Hedman – Nick Perbix

Analysis: Hedman might not be the perennial Norris candidate that he a few years ago, but the Lightning still need him performing at a high level if they are to be contenders. Part of maximizing his performance has been pairing him with the right defensive partner. He and Jan Rutta worked well together for the three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances, but after Rutta’s departure before last season, Hedman’s pairing partner was a revolving door for the early part of year. Perbix eventually began to consolidate the spot, and the two continued to build chemistry into the finish of last season. I expect that they will be back together again.

2nd Pairing

Mikhail Sergachev – Darren Raddysh

Analysis: Sergachev, 25, is entering the prime of his career, and the 64 points he recorded last season might only be a prelude to what is to come. He was paired with Erik Cernak in the past, but he and Raddysh were beginning to form a dynamic pairing at the end of last season as both are offensively talented defensemen.

Raddysh was one of the best stories on the team last season as the 27-year-old earned himself a regular role in the NHL for the first time in his career. That carried over into the playoffs as he scored one of the best goals of the series for the Lightning. Even though his sample size is small, there is enough to like about him to warrant him the opportunity to be one of the team’s top-four defensemen.

3rd Pairing

Calvin de Haan- Erik Cernak

Analysis:. Cernak locks down the bottom of the team’s defense pairings but will also be available to move up and down the pairings as needed. On the left side, the Lightning signed De Haan on the second day of free agency. De Haan, a 573-game veteran should provide the team with steady defensive play while maintaining his composure — he has historically not been a heavily penalized player.