The lapsed fans guide to the 2023-24 Tampa Bay Lightning

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Whether or not you can believe it, the Tampa Bay Lightning will take the ice today at 5:30 inside Amalie Arena to take on the Nashville Predators for the opening game of the NHL season.

And while you may have followed all the ins and outs of the offseason since we last saw the Bolts in April, there are also plenty of fans who probably didn’t follow the offseason as closely.

The following is to help catch you up to speed with what to expect from the 2023-24 Tampa Bay Lightning:

Who left for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Unfortunately, as has been the case the last few years, the Lightning had to say goodbye to some fan favorites in the offseason:

  • Alex Killorn – It was always going to be a long shot to keep Killorn past last season. While the Lightning did try and make an offer to keep Killorn in Tampa until he retires, the Jet Ski King was offered a four-year deal worth $6,250,000 per season by the Anaheim Ducks, a number Tampa was never in a position to match.
  • Ross Colton – Even though he was a restricted free agent and Tampa would have had more bargaining power, the number for Colton was too high for the Lightning to be able to keep him. He was traded to Colorado and subsequently signed a four-year deal worth $4 million a season.
  • Corey Perry – Tampa had the benefit of getting Perry a cheap deal during his time in the Bay Area, but Chicago swooped in with a one-year, $4 million deal that Perry couldn’t turn down.
  • Ian ColeWhat’s interesting about Cole is that he signed with Vancouver for the exact same contract he had with Tampa, one year for $3 million. This was probably always the plan to have Cole as a one-year rental.
  • Pat Maroon – I will remember you. You will remember me. But in Maroon’s case, he actually had a year left on his contract. His play on the ice made it hard to justify his roster spot, a Tampa traded him to Minnesota while retaining a part of his salary.
  • Pierre-Édouard Bellemare – Another player Tampa could have kept if they wanted to, but the Lightning seemingly let him walk. He is with Seattle this season.
  • Brian Elliott – After being a reliable backup, Elliott hasn’t officially retired, but he is not on an NHL roster to start the season.

So, who is new for the Lightning?

So, if you ship out a bunch of players, you have to bring new blood in. Tampa did the best they could given their salary cap constraints:

  • Calvin de Haan – Veteran defenseman with 537 NHL games under his belt. He played 53 games for Carolina last season, posting a plus/minus of +7.
  • Luke Glendening – Another long-time veteran of the game, Tampa fans might be familiar with Glendening from his time with Detroit. He will be taking Tampa’s fourth-line center role and is noted for his faceoff abilities.
  • Jonas Johansson – Tampa brought him in to be the backup goalie, and thanks to The Big Cat being injured, Johansson will be holding down the fort for the first two months. This will be Johansson’s first extended stint in the NHL.
  • Waltteri MerelaA free agent the Lightning signed from Finland, Merela had a great preseason to earn a slot on the team.
  • Tyler Motte – Originally, the Lightning signed Josh Archibald, but he informed the team he would be stepping away from hockey. So the Bolts went out and got veteran Tyler Motte instead. Motte will be a bottom-six forward who does have the ability to be a streaky scorer.
  • Conor Sheary – Spent the last three seasons with Washington. He has 120 career goals but has only topped 20 goals in a single season once.
  • Matt Tomkins – A career minor league goalie who will start the season as the backup.
  • Austin Watson – The nine-year NHL veteran was brought to the Tampa Bay Lightning on a professional tryout and impressed enough during the preseason to earn a roster spot. Watson will fill the Maroon role of the fighter on the team, except Watson can actually win his fights.

What else happened?

Beyond the flurry of new signings, the back end of July and the month of August were mostly quiet for the Tampa Bay Lightning. There were a couple of notable things that happened in September:

  • The Big Cat is hurt – This is a bit of a problem. Andrei Vasilevskiy had back surgery and will be out for the season’s first two months.
  • Hagel is here to stay – In positive news, Brandon Hagel inked an eight-year extension worth $6,500,000 a season.
  • The Captain isn’t happy – While the Lightning got Hagel signed, they didn’t sign Steven Stamkos to an extension. 2023-24 is the last year of the eight-year deal he signed back in 2016, and he noted at Media Day that he was disappointed he didn’t have an extension already in place.

Next. The Lightning are salary cap wizards. dark