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Brisebois: 2023 season a ‘missed opportunity’ for Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn - The Canadian Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning held media availability on Tuesday morning, three days after their first-round at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 on Saturday.

The 2022-23 season marked the first time in four years that the Lightning had failed to reach the Stanley Cup Final. General manager Julien Brisebois says the team’s season was a missed opportunity, in light of the Bolts’ string of recent playoff success.

"I would characterize our season as a missed opportunity. That's the case every year when you're a Stanley Cup contender and you don't win the trophy,” Brisebois told reporters on Tuesday. “I went into the playoffs this year believing we had what it took to bring the cup back to Tampa and I still do"

Tampa Bay finished the regular season with a 46-30-6 record but stumbled into the playoffs, going 14-15-5 after Feb. 1.

Brisebois will need to make several roster moves ahead of next season, as the club has six pending unrestricted free agents, including forward Alex Killorn, who scored a career high 27 goals and 64 points this season. Although he is likely to demand a more lucrative contract than the $4.45 million he earned this past season, Brisebois would like to keep the 33-year-old, who has been with Lightning since being drafted by the club 77th overall in 2007.

"I know it's going to be a challenge. I think what helps us is that I know Alex loves it here. He wants to stay here. We'd love to have him here,” said Brisebois. “He's coming off a career season and means so much to our organization, both on the ice and off the ice."

With just under $74 million in salary committed for 2023-24, but with the club’s core of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, and Andrei Vasilevskiy intact, Brisebois says he will continue working to ensure the team remains a Stanley Cup contender moving forward.

"Every decision that we're going to make between now and the start of next season will be made with an eye towards making sure that we are a Stanley Cup contender not only next year, but beyond."