Tampa Bay Lightning – DobberProspects

Last offseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight year. The first two trips resulted in back-to-back Stanley Cups. For their third voyage, they had the worst possible luck; they ran into the force of nature that was the Colorado avalanche.

It’s the offseason of lost ceiling space, which Tampa has done in a big way with the trade of sympathetic veteran D-man Ryan McDonagh, which has given them another 6,750,000 to work with.

With a few other major subtractions, and so far no significant additions, it remains to be seen if Tampa can make another trip to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 2022-23 season.

First round, 31st overall – Isaac Howard, LW

The most handsome player in the draft, Isaac Howard was one of the top 15 talents who ranked 31st overall. I think that’s what kids call “stealing.”

Howard is always on the move. He constantly plays the game with pace and urgency. Constantly moves his feet and searches for free ice while obsessively claiming the puck. He never turns into only wanting the puck for himself, but you have to admire his confidence and his moxie.

He has a fantastic shot which he is not afraid to use. He is able to find lanes and get his shots to the net. His quasi-elite stickhandling aids his hunt on the open ice as he maneuvers around the opponent.

Howard is a top-6 lock and should be on every fantasy GM’s radar when it comes to your Dynasty league’s rookie draft.

Third round, 86th overall – Lucas Edmonds, RW/LW

The first of two overagers Tampa selected this year, Edmonds is a triple overager who played for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL this year.

He’s a smart, cunning player who can get to the right spot on the ice with ease and without drawing attention to himself. While his point totals have been impressive this year, it’s important to remember that he’s 21 and playing mostly 16 and 17 year olds, he SHOULD dominate. It also illustrates that the attack has been there and could be there in the future if he can adapt to every step he takes in his playing career.

He’s not amazing at one thing but is solid at all things. He can safely project to be a winger in the middle of the six, or even the front six if he can get more killer instinct around the net.

Fifth round, 160th overall – Nick Malik, G

Malik has posted sublime numbers in the Liiga this year. In 34 games played, he went 15-9-9 with a 1.97 GAA and 922 save percentage to go along with four shutouts. It’s also worth pointing out that Malik is yet another overage drafted by Tampa this year.

Malik is not a flashy keeper and moves very well. He struggles to stop pucks just below his glove hand and will need to clean that up to find success in the AHL and NHL.

With a few years in development, we’re looking at an NHL replacement as our floor.

Sixth round, 192nd overall – Connor Kurth, C

Getting Isaac Howard was the first steal of the draft for the Lightning, picking up Connor Kurth was the second steal. Playing in the USHL last year and this year, he has 40 goals and 48 assists in 66 total games this season.

The first thing that stands out about Kurth is his ability to use his body on faceoffs. His wide stance helps him balance himself until he leans into the opposing player, outplaying them in the process. He already looks like he could make a ton once he reaches NHL level.

Kurth has plenty of stick skills for everyone. He has no problem getting behind him between the legs or smashing pucks through the air to score power-play goals.

He is easily projected as a third or second line center. Size, effort, skill all in the same package is going to make Kurth my prospect to keep an eye on for the future.

Seventh round, 223rd overall – Dyllan Gill, D

Dyllan Gill fits the profile of the kind of defenseman Tampa likes to develop in their system, so it makes sense that they decided to go after this kid in the seventh round.

He has wheels and could be more confident carrying the puck instead of just passing because he can be an exciting puck carrier to watch.

Gill really shines on the power play. He plays with determination and intensity. Clean passing and good puck protection by lowering his center of gravity and leaning towards guys, extending his reach further away from him.

He could easily be a second-pair defenseman with second-man power-play duties working their way to the top power-play.

Round Seven, 224th Overall – Klavs Veinbergs, LW

Veinbergs had a very interesting year playing in both the MHL in Russia and the Latvian professional league. He did not explode the doors on the production side (24 points in 47 games in the MHL and 5 points in 5 games in Latvia). Either way, the kid has some raw tools that, with proper development, can lead to a productive NHL career.

His strengths are definitely his reach and his ability to protect the puck when fully utilized as well as his quick wrist. His shot is very deceptive and the way he moves his body when finishing to shoot might make you feel like a big booming slapper is coming, but he’s just big.

Because he’s a seventh-round pick, every NHL game he plays could be considered icing on the draft cake. He has the tools to make a name for himself as a back-6 scoring center. With its ceiling maybe that of a Nick Bjukstad type.

Brisebois has remained relatively quiet in the Free Agency department this offseason, having mostly signed deep plays for the Lightning organization. With the salary cap desperately in need of relief (they’re 7,195,183 over the cap at the time of this writing), another shoe will surely fall before the season begins.

incoming

Main list: Ian Cole (D), Vladislav Namestnikov (F), Haydn Fleury (D), Phillipe Myers (D)

System: Maxime Legace (L), Trevor Carrick (R), Grant Mismash (F)

Cole, Fleury and Myers will all be fighting for two top-6 jobs this upcoming training camp. It will be interesting to see who is able to stay in the formation long term. It’s easy to place Ian Cole as at least the 7th defender. I’m curious to see if Fleury can be a good partner for Hedman to work with at 5×5.

Outgoing

Ryan McDonagh (D), Ondrej Palat (F), Jan Rutta (D), Sammy Walker (F), Cole Guttman (RW)

Each of these losses is enormous. McDonagh and Rutta were big chunks on the back end and we’ll be waiting to see which of the new signings can step into those shoes to fill. The most interesting piece for me though is who will fill Palat’s old top 6 position. commitment to the NCAA.

Internally, a player like Nick Paul or Ross Colton could take a look to see how they fit together. Or Alex Barre-Boulet.

Losing Jan Rutta doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance, but due to the minutes he’s been at 5×5 with Hedman, it’s important to have the right partner with Hedman moving forward.

Re-signatures

Anthony Cirelli (8 years/6,250,000), Mikhail Sergachev (8 years/8,500,000), Erik Cernak (8 years/5,200,000), Nick Paul (7 years/3,125,000), Darren Raddysh (2 years/ 762,500)

Nick Paul is the only one of those contracts to come into effect this year, with the other three extensions not taking effect until the 2023-24 season. Nick Paul has been a strong contributor from depth, scoring 14 points in 21 regular season games. He scored timely goals in the playoffs and had 9 points in 23 playoff games.

—Caleb Kerney

Robert M. Larson