Hard to believe it was just a few short years ago that I was arguing with some dolt about whether the Lightning would even exist beyond the next decade. Though he was probably one of those so-called “purists” who think that no matter how well a team does, it’s a bad idea to put them any further south than St. Louis (though Nashville seems to be the lone exception).
This team has had it’s struggles in that period, but look at what they accomplished last season. though it’s a shame what happened to Ben Bishop. But, he’s expected to be ready to give it another go, and he has yet another solid backup, with Evgeni Nabokov replacing Anders Lindback. Goaltending in Tampa is looking pretty sweet so far.
I’m also pleased with Yzerman’s defencive acquisitions, bringing in seasoned veterans mostly.
Speaking of defencemen, is Victor Hedman the most underrated d-man in the league or what? Same goes for Eric Brewer. Though at this point, Hedman is the likeliest of the two to be nominated for a Norris Trophy. And if he keeps playing like he has been, I sincerely hope he does.
Shifting to offence, I can’t make any complaints here either. Depth signings were made (including veteran Brenden Morrow, a guy I thoroughly enjoyed seeing in St. Louis), and most of Tampa’s better scorers are still here.
I see this team making the playoffs, a second round entirely possible. And beyond this season/offseason, Yzerman is really setting this team up for long-term success (case in point, this year’s draft and the prospects looking to earn a spot in the upcoming training camp). Losing in the first round in 2014 was a real punch in the gut, but it could also have been a wake-up call for this team. And I think they’ll answer.