Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2013 Tampa Bay Lightning Season Review

Tampa was a team that got off to a very fast start in 2013, but could not sustain that level of play over the entire shortened season. By season's end, they were who I thought they were. Anders Lindback was strong in the first few weeks, then it all fell apart. Cory Conacher's emergence as a NHL level offensive talent was the early season success story, but eventually he was traded for another top back-up goalie (who also proved unable to reverse the team's sinking fortunes). It was a fast start followed by a slower and gradual decline.

Kudos to Vinny for coming to camp in shape and ready to play this season, but that is still a terrible contract for a 32 year old player. Eventually LeCavalier fell to injury, which seems to have become all too common for the aging star. $7.7M is a heafty annual price to pay for Vinny's mid to late 30s. Steven Stamkos is similarly expensive, but he is one of the top producing snipers in the entire league. Stamkos is a unique talent that you build a team around. It's also possible that the defense is entirely inadequate to become a legitimate contender. Lindback was accustomed to playing behind Suter and Weber, which may have inflated his performance in Nashville.

The coach got fired during the season, if for no other reason than because he can be fired. In reality Anders Lindback probably deserved to fired more than Boucher, but clearly this was an under-achieving team. It had become clear that the veterans had stopped buying into the Boucher system, which many speculate first began during that infamous game against Philly where the Lightning would not send in a forechecker. Ever since that game, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been on a downward trend (the first 3 weeks notwithstanding).

Preseason Rank: 22
Midseason Rank: 7
Final Rank: 24
GM Grade: D

1st Star: Steven Stamkos
2nd Star: Martin St.Louis
3rd Star: Ted Purcell

UFAs: Matt Garon
RFAs: Benoit Pouliot, Keith Aulie

Best Contract: Victor Headman 4 more years at $4M
Worst Contract: Vinny LeCavalier 7 more years at $7.7M

What I said about them in preseason:  Steve Yzerman is probably my greatest childhood hero, even more so than Spiderman or the Ghostbusters. Tampa had a tremendous year in 2011, but fell off a cliff in 2012. Talented young players mixed with some older championship experience. They should be decent, just a few cards short of a winning hand.


The aura of magic surrounding General Manager Steve Yzerman is slowly fading away. They have gone from playoff Cinderella to consecutive playoff misses. There has to be significant pressure on GM Steve Yzerman to try and rebuild while also trying to keep the team as competitive as possible. You can't tank a season with Stamkos and St.Louis on the ice. Will Ben Bishop become the goalie of the future? This roster is one or two moves away from being very dangerous, but that time is not right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment