Tag Archive | Lightning

Atlantic Division 2014-15 Preview

By Brett Malamud

We’ve hit Monday and are now just TWO days away from the start of the NHL season. If you missed the first preview, here’s the link to the Metropolitan Division preview. The preview of divisions continues with a look at the Atlantic:
Boston Bruins
With the loss of Jarome Iginla in free agency, the Bruins will look for someone on the current roster to replace the 30 goal scorer. They dealt Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders yesterday to clear three million dollars off of the salary cap but remain 800,000 dollars over the cap. Patrice Bergeron, who tied Iginla for the 2013-14 team lead in scoring, will attempt to replicate his performance of last season. On defense, Zdeno Chara remains under contract for the next 4 seasons, and he shows no signs of slowing down with his age. Third year defenseman Dougie Hamilton will continue to grow and comes off of a year in which he had seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points. Tukka Rask will continue to produce wins in net and should carry them the distance.

 

Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have stockpiled themselves with draft picks headed into the upcoming season, acquiring first round picks from both the Islanders (in the Thomas Vanek trade) and the Blues (In the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott trade). While the Blues pick is expected to be a late 1st round pick, the Islanders pick could be the jackpot to the first pick and Connor McDavid. However, with the Islanders trades on Saturday, the pick could end up as a mid to low first round pick. The Sabres picked Sam Reinhart with the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Reinhart may start the season in the AHL, but could work his way up to the NHL by mid season. The team signed Matt Moulson a few months after dealing him to Minnesota. They also signed Brian Gionta, Andrej Meszaros and Josh Gorges. Jhonas Enroth will most likely be the starter in goal, but Michal Neuvirth will challenge him for some playing time. Tyler Myers will lead the defense, which will certainly better than last season. While the team has improved, they’re not expected to go anywhere in April.

 

Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are an interesting team to watch this year. They come in with a streak of 23 consecutive appearances in the playoffs, a streak that may come to an end this season. Pavel Datsyuk already hurt his shoulder and should start the season on IR. He’ll be back around late October. Henrik Zetterberg will hope to carry the offense without him. Jimmy Howard remains between the pipes and hopes to improve from last season. Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar will help to give Detroit some youth. But after them, the Red Wings look pretty old when it comes to their more significant names.

 

Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers come into this season after drafting Aaron Ekblad with the first overall pick in  the draft this past June. The 18 year old defenseman looks ahead to his future in the NHL which is up in the air for this season. There’s a chance that Ekblad is left off the roster at the start of this season, much to the disappointment of the Florida fans who’d like to see the youngster out on the ice. Aleksander Barkov comes off of a great rookie season and hopes to build on that. Jonathan Huberdeau could skate alongside Barkov to form a one two punch in Florida. In goal is Roberto Luongo, a major piece that can help them in the next few seasons as he finishes out his career.

 

Montreal Canadiens
The departure of former captain Brian Gionta and former assistant captain Josh Gorges to Buffalo signals a need for leadership. Defenseman P.K. Subban hopes to fill that role, along with Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, who were all named assistant captains by GM Marc Bergevin. It’s just the second time in team history that the Canadiens do not have a captain. Carey Price remains a stud in net. The Habs will look ahead to matching a season that ended in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Ottawa Senators
The trade of Jason Spezza to Dallas signals a bit of a rebuild for the Senators. Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur will take over the top line. Recently signed forward David Legwand looks to fill in the second line center slot. Erik Karlsson leads a defensive unit that allowed the most goals since they allowed 291 goals back in the 1995-96 season. It will be tough for the men in net, after the Sens signed both Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson to three year deals. Both goalies could be starters and that creates a controversy. That is something that I will definitely keep my eye on.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos leads the Lightning after coming off of that broken tibia that he suffered last November. Without Martin St. Louis by his side, the first line wing slot is vacant. Enter Jonathan Drouin. The rookie hopes to fill that void on the first line and is sure to be a Calder Trophy candidate. Brenden Morrow and Ryan Callahan will provide some veteran leadership, which will definitely help the young Lightning players. Ben Bishop comes off of a season in which he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist, but was hurt in the playoffs and underwent surgery on his elbow over the offseason. The Lightning hope that he can stay healthy and that they won’t have to rely on the aging Evgeni Nabokov.
Jonathan Drouin hopes to make a huge impact in his rookie season. (Via USA Today)

Jonathan Drouin hopes to make a huge impact in his rookie season. (Via USA Today)

 

Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk remain as a deadly pairing on offense. Dion Phaneuf heads the defensive unit. They lost Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, and Mason Raymond, which should allow the younger players such as Nazem Kadri fill bigger roles within the club. Jonathan Bernier will be the starting goaltender for the team that allowed a league-high 35.9 shots per game last season.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

2014 NHL Free Agency Preview

By Brett Malamud

Forwards

Thomas Vanek- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 27 G, 41 A, 68 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild

Vanek has narrowed his list to “4 or 5 teams” and I’d be shocked if the final decision wasn’t Minnesota.

 

Jarome Iginla- 36 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 30 G, 31 A, 61 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Bruins, Wild, Canucks, Red Wings, Lightning

Unless Iginla decides that he’ll take a pay cut to return to Boston, I’m not quite sure how the Bruins will find salary cap space to sign him. This should be an exciting bidding war.

 

Paul Stastny- 28 Years Old- C (2013-14: 25 G, 35 A, 60 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Blues, Predators, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Avalanche

Speaking of bidding wars, the most pursued free agent out there is none other than Paul Stastny. Stastny grew up in St. Louis and so the Blues are certainly intriguing. I think that they’ll make a good offer. Colorado would like to keep him but could very well be outbid by a team that’ll overpay for him.

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

Paul Stastny will be reeling in the offers when free agency opens (Via Getty)

 

Matt Moulson- 30 Years Old- LW (2013-14: 23 G, 28 A, 51 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Sabres, Senators, Stars, Predators

Let’s get this out of the way: Don’t doubt a Moulson return to Long Island. The 30 year old still remains close with one of his best friends John Tavares. Moulson loved being an Islander. Isles GM Garth Snow made his mistake when he dealt Moulson to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek, who told the team a few months later that he wouldn’t re-sign. I’m sure Tavares will be chirping in Snow’s ear.

 

Mike Ribeiro- 34 Years Old- C (2013-14: 16 G, 31 A, 52 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Flames, Blackhawks, Predators

The Coyotes bought out Ribeiro for his behavior off the ice. Should be interesting to see who will take a chance on him.

 

Daniel Alfredsson- 41 Years Old- RW (2013-14: 18 G, 31 A, 49 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Red Wings

Alfredsson has indicated that his two options are the Detroit Red Wings and retirement.

 

Defensemen

Matt Niskanen- 27 Years Old- (2013-14: 10 G, 36 A, 46 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Wild, Islanders, Capitals, Lightning,

Niskanen is the top all around defenseman on the market in my opinion. The Lightning cleared a ton of cap space and I think signing Niskanen is the reason why they did.

 

Dan Boyle- 37 Years Old- (2013-14: 12 G, 24 A, 36 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Rangers, Canadiens, Red Wings, Maple Leafs

Boyle’s rights were traded to the Islanders, but they couldn’t nail down a deal so he’ll hit the FA market. His age will effect his contract so don’t expect anyone to break the bank on Boyle.

 

Christian Ehrhoff- 31 Years Old- (2013-14: 6 G, 27 A, 33 Pts.)
Possible Destinations: Islanders, Lightning, Red Wings

Ehrhoff was bought out of his remaining seven years of his 10-year deal with Buffalo. Detroit showed a lot of interest at the trade deadline, so keep an eye on them.

 

Michael Del Zotto- 24 Years Old- (2013-14: 3 G, 13 A, 16 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Maple Leafs

Del Zotto was not given a qualifying offer by the Nashville Predators, making him an unrestricted free agent. The question with Del Zotto is: can this be a good value pickup? He won’t get paid as much as the others, so a low spending team like the Islanders may take a good look at him.

 

Brooks Orpik- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 2 G, 1 A, 13 Pts.)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Blues, Sabres

If you notice, the Islanders were listed on each of the defensemen’s free agents possible destinations. Yes, they need a defenseman and so they’ll look at each one. I believe that they should sign Orpik but don’t think they will. He has a blistering shot and is a force on defense. A hard hitter, Orpik will be a good fit wherever he goes.

Goaltenders

Jonas Hiller- 32 Years Old- (2013-14: 29-13, 5 SO, 2.48 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Lightning, Jets, Canucks

This is a rough spot for Hiller here, sharing the market with Brodeur, Miller and Nabokov. But he could go to a team such as the Lightning and Jets who have a shaky situation when it comes to a plan B in net.

 

Martin Brodeur- 42 Years Old- (2013-14: 19-14, 3 SO, 2.51 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Maple Leafs, Devils, Lightning, Bruins, Blackhawks, Penguins

Instead of retiring, Brodeur will explore his options outside of New Jersey. I don’t expect him to be signed on the first day of free agency.

 

Ryan Miller- 33 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-22, 3 SO, 2.72 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Canucks, Sharks

Miller already met with Vancouver officials and my belief is that he’ll be signed by them.

 

Evgeni Nabokov- 38 Years Old- (2013-14: 15-14, 4 SO, 2.74 GAA)

Possible Destinations: Islanders, Capitals, Flyers

Another interesting signing will be Nabokov. He wasn’t close on a deal with the Isles and so he’ll go out to free agency. The Capitals need a backup for Braden Holtby. Philly is over the cap and so I think Nabokov will end up with the Caps.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

After Losing A Superstar, Can The Bolts Bounce Back?

By Mike Basile

The Monday Matinee between the Bruins and the Lightning ended in a 3-0 loss for the Lightning. The real loss today took place in the second period of the game when Boston’s Dougie Hamilton sent Steven Stamkos stumbling into the net. Even the Boston crowd froze as they watched as Stamkos’ leg bent awkwardly and he laid on the ice, riving in pain. The unimaginable for Stamkos and the Lightning became a harsh reality when the stretcher was brought out onto the ice, and he was taken off. The question is: can this team carry on with the loss of their superstar?

A look at the injury to Steven Stamkos (Via Sporting News and NESN)

A look at the injury to Steven Stamkos (Via Sporting News and NESN)

Now with Stamkos out indefinitely, this team needs to find a way to cope without him. This is not going to be an easy task, and they may need some time to adjust. They just lost their scorer, and a player who was on his way to an MVP caliber season. Stamkos had 23 points in 17 games and was a great plus 11. Realistically, you can’t just go out and find another Stamkos. Right now, the Lightning are leading the Atlantic Division with 24 points. With the Lightning playing great hockey, I think they will continue their winning ways without their leader in uniform.

When you lose a guy like Stamkos, you would think that the key is to go and find someone to replace him. However, I disagree. I think that now with Stamkos out, Ben Bishop will be the key for this team. The 26-year-old Bishop has been great this season in net, with a 2.12 goals against average. He will have to be the backbone of this team. His 92.7 % save percentage also tells me that he really could be the best option between the pipes. If Lindback does not step up when he plays, Bishop will have a heavy load to carry the rest of the way.

I know you guys probably hear veteran leadership all the time, but this Lightning team really needs that now. When you lose a superstar like Stamkos, you have to keep the team at high hopes, and that will be the job of Martin St. Louis. Not only is he the second leading scorer on the team, he has to be a vocal leader in the locker room. Matt Carle will also have to step up as a defensive leader for this Lightning team. A little bit of leadership to keep this team on its high horse is very important.

Finally, the young guns are going to have to play a big role and it starts on defense with Victor Hedman. Already a plus seven on the season, he needs to keep that up and step up in the scoring category.  Alex Killorn will also need to step up his offensive gameplay, as he has played well early. If he keeps this up, the team will be A-Okay.

At the end of the day, I think the Tampa Bay Lightning will be able to win without Steven Stamkos. I do not think that they will finish first in the Atlantic, but I do think they will end up in the playoffs. This team has solid goaltending and great veteran leadership. If the young guns can play mistake free hockey, Tampa Bay will show everyone they are not a one-man show!

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Mike Basile is a sophomore at York College Of Pennsylvania. He is a huge sports fan, and when it comes to hockey maybe considered a little obsessive. Giving insight on the Islanders and all things hockey. You can follow him on twitter at @mikeybasile1