The fourth line of the Tampa Bay Lightning will look significantly different next season than it has the last two years. Tampa Bay elected to not re-sign Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare while trading Pat Maroon to the Minnesota Wild. Next year’s fourth line will look entirely different after this trio made up the bottom of the Lightning lineup for the most part of the last two years.
The “school bus” line as they were known was an effective line in their two years together in Tampa. One thing became evident as time went on that this trio was not only getting up there in age, but they were slow.
Despite having another year on his deal, the Lightning ultimately decided it was time to move on from Maroon and opt for a fourth line that is a bit younger and faster. In order to fill the holes left behind at the bottom of the lineup, Tampa Bay elected to fill those holes in free agency.
There is still plenty of time in the offseason but the fourth line is likely going to consist of Luke Glendening, Josh Archibald and a young player up from the Syracuse Crunch. Cole Koepke is probably the clubhouse leader to land that role after appearing in 17 NHL games last year with the Lightning.
This presumed trio would not have a single player on it even making $1 million this season. Together, they will count just over $2.3 million against the cap. The previous trio of fourth liners counted $3 million towards the cap. Obviously, that is not a ton of savings but it is a bit to a cap strapped team like the Lightning.
Glendening does not do much to bring youth to the fourth line at 34 years old. However, his faceoff prowess alone might make him a bit of an upgrade already from Bellemare who turned 38 this past season.
Archibald is an interesting piece brought in to play on the wing. He will be able to provide a stronger skating forechecking presence that the Lightning did not have on the flanks previously with Perry and Maroon. Koepke taking up another wing will bring a drastically different look on the skating alone of this line.
Another current player who could possibly find themselves on the fourth line could be Mikey Eyssimont. Eyssimont spent a bit of time in the fourth line role this past season after coming over from San Jose. He provides a ton of speed and energy that could be welcome. At this point in time, it is most likely however that he finds himself on the Lightning’s third line.
A dark horse candidate also brought in via free agency could be Logan Brown. At 6’6, Brown provides a big body down the middle of the ice. Brown was never able to develop into quite the player he was expected to after being drafted 11th overall by Ottawa in 2016. However, he could provide an intriguing depth option in the Lightning lineup for this season.