The Tampa Bay Lightning had a variety of players that served as Alternate Captains throughout the season. With Captain Steven Stamkos going down with injury after 17 games and Ryan Callahan missing large chunks until finally going on the shelf, there was room for head coach Jon Cooper to give the A to multiple players across the team.
Ondrej Palat, Callahan, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Braydon Coburn, Brian Boyle, Valterri Filppula, and Alex Killorn all wore an A on their jersey at least once in 2016-17. Those that are still with the team give us an idea of who is likely to be the Alternate Captains this season.
With Stamkos out for so much of the season, Jon Cooper was able to give the A to three players per game during his absence. Until his injury, only three players wore an A: Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman, and Ryan Callahan. Afterwards, it was a changing cast. However, two players in particular were favorites of Jon Cooper to wear the A.
- Brian Boyle - 28 games out of 54
- Ondrej Palat - 74 games out of 75
- Anton Stralman - 58 games out of 73
- Ryan Callahan - 18 games out of 18
- Victor Hedman - 18 games out of 79
- Alex Killorn - 2 games out of 81
- Braydon Coburn - 28 games out of 80
- Valtteri Filppula - 2 games out of 59
Braydon Coburn was an alternate for some games early in the season, but the majority of his came after the trade deadline when Brian Boyle was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boyle took Callahan’s place as an alternate during times that Palat and Callahan were both out of the lineup. Stralman was an alternate for every game starting with the eighth game after Stamkos went out with injury. Palat only had one game played without an A, and that was early in the season.
So who’s in line for the Alternate Captaincy this season? Without a doubt, Ryan Callahan will continue to serve as one of the Alternates. He’s been an Alternate since he joined the team, and two seasons ago was the only permanent Alternate while the second A rotated between players.
Who does that leave for the second spot? Stralman or Palat unless I miss my guess. Considering that Palat was near enough to being a permanent Alternate, my bet would be on him to take the spot. However, Jon Cooper in the past has used a rotating system with one player having the second A for home games and the other for away games, and then swapping mid-way through the season. That very well could happen for Stralman and Palat. He could also continue to just pass the second A around the locker room as he sees fit instead of settling on a permanent player.
Last preseason, Tyler Johnson wore an A for a game, but he has never worn one in a regular season game for the Lightning. In Friday night’s game, only Stamkos wore a letter and no one wore an A even though Callahan, Palat, and Hedman were in the line-up. My best guess is that with the lineups being so different every game, it’s generally going to be some veteran wearing an A.
With three games to go and less than two weeks until opening night, I expect we’ll be finding out soon who will be wearing As to go alongside Captain Steven Stamkos. There is no doubt that there are plenty of leaders on this team, both in the locker room and on the ice. Whether they wear a letter on their jersey or not, they’re still leaders and have an impact on the team.