TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
|C Steven Stamkos
GOALS: 60 | ASST: 37 | PTS: 97
SOG: 303 | +/-: 7
|G Mathieu Garon
GAA: 2.85 | SVP: 0.901
|RW Brett Connolly
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 15
SOG: 94 | +/-: -9
|Marc-Andre Bergeron appeared in only 43 games, but still led all defensemen in scoring with 24 points. He was also the sixth-highest point-getter on the club.|
Injuries decimated the team, with only three players making it through the full season unscathed. At one point, Tampa Bay had nine regulars out and fielded a team that featured two lines of American Hockey League players called up from Norfolk. Goaltending was another problem – Dwayne Roloson started the season as the No. 1 goalie, but only flashed his best form once the team was out of playoff contention.
How to fix it?
The Lightning need to find a goaltender that can be counted on game after game. That player is likely to come from outside the organization via trade or free agency, since Roloson, the oldest player in the NHL, likely will not be back and the prospects in the minors are not turning any heads. Tampa Bay will also need to find another top forward to add to the scoring.
Three reasons for hope:
1. Steven Stamkos. Only 22-years-old and already established as the best goal-scorer in the League, Stamkos still has room to grow. This season he became a force in the locker room, as well as on the ice, as he began to assume a leadership role.
2. The defensive corps, one of the team's weak spots heading into the season, has been solidified with trade-deadline moves. Victor Hedman is developing into a steady presence on the ice and with Eric Brewer, Brett Clark, Brian Lee and the return from injury of Marc-Andre Bergeron, the Lightning seem secure in this department. Add the steady play of Bruno Gervais and Brendan Mikkelson and the expected development of Keith Aulie and Tampa Bay appears set on defense.
3. There are some needs to fill on the forward lines and in net, but the Lightning have stockpiled high draft choices which will give them flexibility to address those needs. Due to injuries, several prospects from AHL Norfolk got to spend quality time with the big club and this experience will only help in the future when there are gaps to fill.