The Tampa Bay Lightning has seemed like a team in a constant state of change for the past few seasons. Just when a player seems to be comfortable with the team, that player moves on the next season. The team has been struggling at goaltender for years thanks to this revolving door policy with players. Now the core of the team has been shaken up and it will be interesting to see how the team recovers. Martin St. Louis returns in 2013-14 as the undisputed leader of the Lightning, but he will be working with a team that has had its foundation shaken and its future is in doubt.
2013 Stanley Cup Odds: 40/1
Notable Change #1: Losing Vincent Lecavalier.
The fans in Tampa Bay really cannot blame Vincent Lecavalier for leaving the Lightning after being with the team since he was drafted in 1998. Lecavalier is a competitor that wants to win a Stanley Cup before he retires. Since his career is drawing to a close, it makes sense to leave Tampa Bay because the Lightning is not looking like a Stanley Cup contender. The confusing part is that Lecavalier left Tampa Bay to go to Philadelphia and join the Flyers. Truth be told, the Flyers do not look like any more of a Stanley Cup contender than the Lightning does.
Notable Change #2: Drafting Jonathan Drouin.
The Tampa Bay Lightning was extremely quiet in free agency this year, but they did have a good draft. The fan in Tampa Bay may not have much to look forward to right now, but the team’s farm system is stacked with huge talent. In 2013, the Lightning took forward Jonathan Drouin, who many experts say will be a top forward in the NHL in the next few years. When the fans group Drouin in with some of the defensive and goaltending prospects that the Lightning has in their system, it is easy to see why so many people who track NHL prospects are getting excited about the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Notable Change #3: Signing Valtteri Filppula.
Since the Lightning did not do a whole lot in free agency, the one move the team did make is making some pretty big waves in Tampa. The Lightning signed former Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula to a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $25 million in total. The obvious inspiration for this move was the loss of Lecavalier. While Filppula may not be able to put up the same kind of consistent numbers that Lecavalier did, he still offers the Lightning a solid offensive forward who can get to the net and score goals. There is a chance that the Lightning will pair Filppula up with Martin St. Louis to try and keep St. Louis’ production up after losing linemate Lecavalier.
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