Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Lightning!
Tampa Bay Lightning
2009-10: 34-36-12 (12th in East, missed the playoffs)
General Manager: Steve Yzerman (1st Season)
Head Coach: Guy Boucher (1st Season)
What they did in the off-season:
It was a massive rebuilding off-season in Tampa Bay. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik fired general manager Brian Lawton and head coach Rick Tocchet the day after the season ended in April and wasn't long in landing the most sought-after candidate in the management pool, hockey legend Steve Yzerman, to be his new GM. Yzerman hired a new staff: head coach Guy Boucher, of the Hamilton Bulldogs (who brought his AHL coaching staff with him), Julien Brisebois from the Canadiens as the new assistant GM, Pat Verbeek as head of pro scouting and Al Murray from Hockey Canada to run amateur scouting. Steve Thomas was also added to the front office staff as a player consultant.
Yzerman reeled in some key talent in his first months on the job. He traded Matt Walker and a fourth round pick to the Flyers for Simon Gagne, one of the biggest deals of the NHL's off-season. He signed Pavel Kubina for a return engagement in Tampa. He addressed depth in needed areas: adding Dominic Moore after the centre's solid season in Montreal, defenders Brett Clark and Randy Jones and backup netminder Dan Ellis. He traded away under-performing defenceman Andrej Meszaros to the Flyers for a second round pick. Yzerman re-signed two key players on the Bolts' roster: right wing Steve Downie got a new two-year contract, and Martin St. Louis was convinced to extended his.
Biggest issue facing the team:
With lots of new faces and a steady rebuilding process underway, a seamless transition may be a challenge for Boucher in his first season as an NHL coach. Boucher is a bit of an enigma given his rapid rise to the NHL; his first head-coaching job was just four years ago in the Quebec League. With any roster overhaul, there are bound to be some bumpy moments. It may be a challenge for Boucher to keep all of the Bolts talented players happy at all times. That being said, if all the new pieces can be pulled together well, the outlook in Tampa is very sunny.
Player to watch:
Just four seasons ago, Vincent Lecavalier was the NHL's top goal-scorer, yet he found the back of the net only 24 times in 2009-10 and averaged less than a point per game for a second consecutive season. Lecavalier underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure in August after suffering a left knee injury in a summer practice. With a new regime and more talent skating with him in Tampa, the Lightning need their all-time leading scorer, the top overall draft pick in 1998 who is now 30, to once regain his old form. Otherwise the never ending “Lecavalier to the Habs” rumours may pop up again.
For additional analysis, be sure to read Scott Cullen's fantasy take.