Having ended the first seaso nof their glorious control of the Tampa Lightning , in nothing but inglorious failure . Koules and Barrie have it appears seen the light in how to rectify the many failings of thier team .
In the 07-08 offseason , the then brand new Lightning owners , decided upon a hands on approach to hockey , and sought to buy up or trade for every possible type of offensive player available on the market . Leading to the acquisition of such notable players as : Gary Roberts , Vascal Prospal , Ryan Malone , Radim Vbrata and so on so forth . Unfortunately , conspicously absent from their "Acquisitions " were any noticable help on D. Made worse by the fact of dealing their best defender , Boyle for nothing more in the end for a low pick and mid tier defenceman .
Well I suppose the burnt hand teaches best . As , since about mid-season the Lightning have slowly right sided themselves. Dealing for a few prospects on D here and their and generally attempting to fix the holes for their team . Most notably , on defence and in net.
Entering this off-season , many expected the war-torn ownership to bungle the most important part of their seaosn . Any of you who have been holding their breath waiting for it , may now exhale . Tampa's owners do not seem to be about to destroy their team through outrageous spending , but rather seem intent on building the team the right way . With a good D-corps to support their goalies and forwards.
Now I am not privy to anything that happens in the offices of the owners .But which ever owner is gagged and bound at the moment and locked in a closet , to prohibit him from making hockey decisions . I would leave him that there. As Tampa has made nothing but smart hockey moves . In other words , finally adressed their needs liek a real team , and not a fantasy team .
Since draft day , the Lightning have worked hard on improving their D. The most notable acquisition being that of Victor Hedman .(Honestly would of been retarded to not pick him ) who is expected to be the key point in their team D-corps for years. Apart from him the Lightning have done about half dozen signings and re-signings . Those being the following :
Obviously as mentioned above , Hedman is key to the revamp. Everyone else fills a need though .
Victor Hedman - Big bodied presence that can and will begin to punish people foolish enough to venture into his zone . Very offensively gifted . Will make his name this year for sure.
Ohlund-Experienced D man who can run a powerplay and mentor the young Hedman .
Foster- Coming off an injury plagued season , Foster still has an enormous amount of upside , and can as well as Ohlund run a PP , and be a great shot on the point .
Walker - Odd man out in Chicago , played limited minutes , but sitll managed to impress . Can be a great shut down guy , if given the chance to evolve into it. Has offensive upside as well .
Lukas Krajicek- Another large body in the Corps. Can be a physical presence when called upon , as well as chip in the odd point here and there. Still honing skills at age 26 , nice addition to any blueline seeking depth . Can eveolve into a reliable second pairing player.
Having suitablyaddressed their Defencive needs . The Lightning have as well brought in a strudy back up . The back up being Antero Nittymaki who was once heralded as a for sure starter , and is now looking for a new start . Nittymaki is a great goaltender that lost alot of his confidence in the disastrous 06-07 season with Philly. Still young at 29 , he showed last year he still has what it takes to play at this level . Will be great for Smith to learn from , and for him to rebuild in a non hockey enviornment.
The new D in conjunction with the old hands still their should make a formiddable enough squad to get by .Who with the forwards they already have (No ridiculous contracts this year ,but a top 6 LW would not be bad ) make the Lightning every bit a playoff challenger as other teams.
Lightning Roster 09-10
Foster-Walker(Krajicek) Bottom three interchangeable
Not to shabby considering where they were at this point in the year last year . (Gary Roberts anyone?)
All in all the Lightning might see a return to the postseason given how well they look now . Not overly laden with offensive talent , and with a solid D-corps .
Good time to be a Lightning fan