NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three important questions facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.
[Lightning 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]
1. Will Brayden Point sign a new contract?
Point, a restricted free agent center, had an NHL career-high 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists) in 79 games last season. A top defensive forward for the Lightning, the 23-year-old often was matched up against the opponent's top line.
General manager Julien BriseBois has consistently expressed confidence throughout the offseason that a contract will get done, saying July 29 he was optimistic Point would sign before the start of training camp in September.
"I don't want to get too much into details of the Brayden Point contract," BriseBois said. "But what I will say is there are all of these players that signed shorter deals coming out of their entry-level contracts who all ended up signing long-term deals and were able to stick with our organization, whether it's Tyler Johnson or Ondrej Palat or Alex Killorn.
"It's worked out for all of them and it's worked out for the organization. We've been able to keep a lot of great players in their prime."
Video: Talking Lightning offseason, Point contract situation
2. Can they rebound after the disappointing end to last season?
After tying an NHL record with 62 regular-season wins (Detroit Red Wings, 1995-96), the Lightning's Stanley Cup Playoff run lasted four games, when they were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Captain Steven Stamkos said they'll be judged by how they perform in the postseason from now on and will have to prove they are better than their performance in the 2019 playoffs would suggest.
"People are going to say whatever they want," Stamkos said. "Everyone loves to see people fail. Some people like to see people do well, but it's a bigger story when it's a failure. We still believe in this organization, this group."
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Stamkos
3. Can Kevin Shattenkirk regain his form?
The 30-year-old defenseman signed a one-year contract with the Lightning on Aug. 5, four days after an injury-plagued two seasons with the New York Rangers ended when the final two years of his four-year contract were bought out.
Shattenkirk, who had 28 points (two goals, 26 assists) and was minus-15 in 73 games with the Rangers last season, said he believes the injuries are behind him, and added he hopes joining Tampa Bay will help lift his game; he likely will be paired with 2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman.
"This is obviously an important year for me to show everyone I'm back to my old self and prove that I can be a player in this League again," Shattenkirk said. "In order for that to happen, you want to put yourself in the best position, and I think this is one of the best positions by far I can be in as a player."
Video: 31 in 31: Tampa Bay Lightning 2019-20 season preview