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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning announce 2018-19 home opener against Florida Panthers

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And the award goes to...

2018 NHL Awards - Press Room
Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses with the James Norris Memorial Trophy given to the top defenseman in the press room at the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Bolts

The party started on a Wednesday night when Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won his first career Norris Trophy for best defenseman in a season. [Raw Charge]

With 63 points (17 goals, 46 assists) in 77 games, Hedman had a season to remember. As the quarterback of the league’s most dangerous power play, Hedman led his team all over the ice, including the shakey defense behind him at times, to an Eastern Conference title and Final Fourfinish in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sadly, the Lightning went 1/3 on the night as Andrei Vasilevskiy and Steve Yzerman lost the Vezina Trophy and GM of the Year Award to Pekka Rinne and George McPhee, respectively.

At least they gave Hedman and should-have-gotten-the-MVP Nikita Kucherov First All-Star Team honors.

The NHL has also announced the home openers for all the teams next season. The Lightning will kick off their season at home on the first Saturday night of the month, October 6th. The season begins on October 3rd, but it appears the Lightning get the first three days off before they get going themselves. [Sportsnet]

In other news, it appears the Lightning are interested in Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev. @loserpoints discusses whether it’s a good idea to acquire the often-injured defensive defenseman. [Raw Charge]

The fact the team has targeted Tanev is encouraging. He’s been among the best defenders in the NHL in shot suppression over his career. He doesn’t offer much offensively but the Lightning have plenty of offense on the left side from Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Sergachev. They need another defensive minded player who can help fill the void being left by Anton Stralman as he ages.

The Bolts should still be able to have a successful Draft this weekend, despite not having a first-round pick. [NHL dot com]

The track record of Yzerman and his scouting staff, led by director of amateur scouting Al Murray, shows the Lightning should be able to find a couple future starters, maybe even a superstar, in this draft despite not owning a pick in the opening round.

Don’t believe it? Check out some of the Lightning’s best non-First Round selections over the previous eight drafts since Yzerman’s arrival...

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch got in on the award-winning action as the staff has taken home three awards from the AHL Meetings, including Most Unique Social Media Promotion!

Bolt Prospects has ranked the 25 young players in our organization, and I must say, it’s a very well done list. I’m definitely having it bookmarked for when we do our Top 25 Under 25 rankings this summer. [Bolt Prospects]

From start to finish, there was arguably no more consistent rookie with the Syracuse Crunch than heady centerman Anthony Cirelli. That’s why it wasn’t terribly surprising the ex-Memorial Cup champion earned a late season recall to Tampa Bay and became a fixture on the third line for the team’s Stanley Cup playoff run. At the moment, the rail thin Cirelli lacks a top end gear in his skating, but he successfully compensates with special ability to read plays and get in fantastic position in all three zones.

The Game

Going back to the NHL awards, here’s a recap of all the winners, with a link to the voting as well (where applicable).

Connor McDavid won the Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP as voted on by the players.

Here is the voting for Heddy’s Norris win. It was close, but also very not close.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin win the King Clancey Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian efforts in their final season!

Mathew Barzal took home the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. Yanni Gourde finished sixth. [Voting]

William “Wild Bill” Karlsson found himself taking home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player in a surprise win. Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and Brayden Point all recieved ballots, but ended being in the bottom 25 of voting. [Voting]

Our favorite person in the world Brian Boyle took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perserverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport of hockey.

PK Subban was awarded with the ES Sports NHL19 cover this year. It’s great to see him immortalized as Not A Hab. Not sure what all the pond hockey is aboot, but whatever.

Anze Kopitar stole the Patrice Bergeron Award for most defensive center that’s also the double runner-up for losing the Hart and Lindsay. Oh, that’s not what it’s called? Okay, Kopitar would take home the Frank J. Selke for best defensive forward. [Voting]

Pekka Rinne won the George Vezina Trophy for goaltender of the year. He’s luck they placed their ballots before the playoffs began. [Voting]

In a quick sweep so we can get to the Hart, the Vegas Golden Knights swept the three super-arbitrarycategories: Derrick Engellend with the Mark Messier Leadership award, Gerard Gallant with the Jack Adams Coach of the Year, and George McPhee with the GM of the Year. [CotY Voting] [GMotY Voting]

And finally, Adam Larsson Taylor Hall took home his first ever Hart Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player to his team in 2018, adding yet another player to the “The trade is one-for-one” that broke the internet in 2016. [Voting]

In terms of voting, Kucherov did not receive one first-place vote and finished sixth in voting. It really ended up coming down to Hall vs. Nathan MacKinnon. And oh, bless them, they gave Hedman a fifth-place vote!