Tampa Bay Lightning: Five reasons for concern in 2023-24

Oct 11, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches his players during the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches his players during the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tampa Bay Lightning
Jul 12, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) hoists the Stanley Cup during the Stanley Cup Championship parade. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Lightning Reasons For Concern: The Blue Line

After five straight seasons of being a Norris Trophy finalist for being the top defenseman in the NHL, Victor Hedman slipped down to 15th in the voting last season following his lowest goal total since 2012-13.

Now, obviously, there is more that goes into playing the blue line than scoring goals, but his plus/minus, while still +10, was his lowest for a full season since 2016-17. He had the most giveaways of his entire career in 2022-23. His on-ice corsi (shot attempts for vs. shot attempts against while on the ice) was the lowest he’s had since 2013-14.

This isn’t to say Victor Hedman is a bum. Far from it.

But his slow slip in play from elite to very good is a warning sign for the defensive group as a whole.

If healthy, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak will be fine, but finding three more quality defensemen is a concern.

Calvin de Haan, acquired in free agency, will be serviceable. Nick Perbix took strides last season but still can’t be left as a stand-alone defenseman.

Haydn Fleury was -10 last season. Darren Raddysh was -3. Zach Bogosian was -4.

If Hedman or Cernak get hurt, which is prone to happen, the group gets really thin real quick.