Monday, August 06, 2007

A Lightning Strike

If there was ever a team that has really enjoyed the salary cap figure going up, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning. A couple years past putting all their eggs into only a few baskets, the cap has allowed them to spend even more money to make their team more competitive.

Vaclav ProspalVincent LecavalierMartin St. Louis
Ryan Craig *Brad RichardsMichel Ouellet
Andreas KarlssonChris GrattonJason Ward
Andre RoyTim TaylorNick Tarnasky
Dan BoyleFilip Kuba
Paul RangerShane O'Brien
Brad LukowichDoug Janik
Johan Holmqvist
Marc Denis

You'll see the depth charts online look a little bit different, but as it stands through the pool rankings, this is what I've come up with. A name to look at, according to a depth chart, is Jan Hlavac. He'll make his return after a couple seasons in Europe, much like Johan Holmqvist last season and will hope for the same kind of season.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins let go of Michel Ouellet, it was kind of a surprise... a surprise that Lightning GM Jay Feaster gladly opened up his wallet for. Ouellet should insert into the line-up at a spot where one of the big two centres will take faceoffs for him. Even if it isn't Lecavalier or Richards, he may even figure in well with the re-acquired centre, Chris Gratton. The Lightning have added quite a bit of firepower since the end of the year. More depth offensively was really what the Lightning were needing, as quite a few teams could contain Lecavalier (despite his 50-goal season), and the Lightning didn't have a lot past him.

The blueline hasn't changed a great deal from last season. At the trade deadline, they sacrificed their first-rounder for defenseman, Shane O'Brien, who re-signed with them already this summer. Boyle and Kuba are generally considered pool defensemen... while Ranger and O'Brien are slowly blossoming into pool considerations. A breakout year could be in order for the Lightning defense and if so, it'll take the team quite a ways into the playoffs.

In goal, Denis didn't quite be the guy that the Lightning paid the big money for. Rather, it was Holmqvist that stepped in on a smaller contract and did the business. Holmqvist won 27 games out of his 48 appearances and should get the bulk of the load to start the season. His new experience back in the NHL should be a big benefit to his numbers and to Tampa's numbers this season and they could find themselves winning the Southeast Division title again and give a good run to the Cup.

As for the cap, since I led off the post with the idea that they're much better... with only Ryan Craig to sign this summer, they are sitting at almost $42 million. Plenty of space, when you think that you're shelling out a ton of dough to players like Lecavalier, Richards, St. Louis, Boyle and Denis. There probably isn't going to be a lot more movement from the Lightning this summer, so be prepared to watch this line-up come October.

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1 comment:

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