Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NHL Season Previews: Tampa Bay Lightning

The biggest question mark going into this season is how are the Tampa Bay Lightning going to perform. New owners Oren Koules and company have done demolition on the team and completely started from scratch. Here's the preview.

Last Year's Team
The Lightning had 71 points last year, which put them at worst in the Eastern Conference and tied for worst in the league. Led by the big three at the start of the season; Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning never really got off the ground due to the cap bind that they had created. The Big three were good but the supporting cast was not all there. Their goaltending let them down led by Mike Smith and Karri Ramo. This led to having the highest goals against in the league.

Cap Space
According to nhlnumbers.com, the Lightning are looking at a cap hit of $54.155 million which puts them near the edge on the cap. With all of the spending that the team has done, there really should be no reason why this team would go out and spend more money.

This Year's Team
Because the Lightning had the first overall pick in the draft, they happened to win the Steve Stamkos lottery. Stamkos leads a number of players that have transferred over to the Lightning. They include Matt Carle, Olie Kolzig, Ryan Malone, Andrej Mezaros, and Gary Roberts among others. They are led by former ESPN broadcaster and former coach Barry Melrose. Melrose has not coached in roughly 15 years and while he has followed the game, his techniques may need to be adjusted and tinkered.

With all the new faces the major question mark is how are they all going to play together. As we have seen before, teams that are basically bought do not seem to fare as well as teams that have grown together. There will definitely be some growing pains especially in the first few months. While I do not see this team as a playoff team due to the slow start that they are inevitably going to face, they will be the team to watch and fear in the second half of the season.

No comments:

Post a Comment