2017-2018 Recap

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished in first place in Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with a record of 54-23-5.

Off-season moves

Steve Yzerman stepped down as general manager on Sept. 11; he plans to serve the club as an advisor to Julien BriseBois until his contract expires after the season.

Additions: D Cameron Gaunce (free agent, Columbus); F Kevin Lynch (free agent, Syracuse Crunch (AHL).

Subtractions:Chris Kunitz (free agent, Chicago Blackhawks); D Andrej Sustr (Anaheim Ducks); F Matthew Peca (Montreal Canadiens); D Mathew Bodie (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)); F Erik Condra (Dallas Stars); F Alex Gallant (Vegas Golden Knights); Jake Dotchin D (contract terminated).

Returning stars:

Nikita Kucherov, led the Lightning in scoring last season (39g-61a = 100 points) and the team extended his contract. Ryan McDonagh also signed a contract extension.

Breakout Bets:

Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point bolster an already-loaded group of Lightning forwards. In his second season, Point broke out last year with an impressive 66 points, and rookie Gourde sparkled with 64 points.

What to Expect:

With such a loaded roster, the Lightning should make a deep run at the Cup this season. Steven Stamkos (cover photo) emerges from a productive year (27g, 59a for 86 points) and at age 28, is in his hockey prime.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, 24, saved 92% of the shots he faced last season, a career best. However, in the Eastern Conference finals against Washington, Vasilevskiy only stopped 86.4% of shots faced. It didn’t help that the Lightning only scored 15 goals in the seven-game series.

That Yzerman stepped aside and is now a team advisor should not negatively impact the team. BriseBois has had time to learn under Yzerman and the team is in a good place organizationally.

Andrew Walsh covers the NHL’s Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @walshandrew89.

Andrew Walsh

NHL News

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