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Tampa Bay Lightning All-Decade Team

It’s that time of the decade!

New Jersey Devils v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re closing in on the end of the 2010s and you know what that means? The All-Decade Team! Yeah, I know a lot of people out there are doing these type of articles and lists, but I want to do one myself. Because it’s fun. The 2010s have been a pretty good decade for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The very beginning of the decade saw one of the single greatest things to happen to this franchise when Jeff Vinik bought the team and then hired Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman to be the general manager

Under Yzerman’s, and then his successor Julien Brisebois’, leadership, the Lightning have gone to the playoffs six out of ten seasons. In those trips to the playoffs, the Lightning made it to the Stanley Cup Final and three other Eastern Conference Finals. In that span, Lightning player’s have also collected some nice postseason hardware: a Hart trophy, three Lady Byng trophies, a Vezina trophy, two Art Ross trophies, a Norris trophy, a Ted Lindsay Award, and a number of finalist finishes to go with them.

This decade also saw two of the biggest figures in Tampa Bay Lightning hockey depart the team in Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, albeit under different circumstances. It saw the rise of Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman as two of premier players in the NHL. We saw draft picks and development of players like we’ve never seen before from this organization.

It’s been a great decade, even though the Lightning failed to reach the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup Championship. For the All-Decade Team, I’m going to construct a full roster, including lines; 13 forwards, seven defensemen, two goaltenders. Because we are constructing a regular roster, I will be doing my best to represent the positions that the player played as well as handedness for the defense,

To be eligible, a player must have played for the Lightning since 1/1/2010. All stats are as of 12/16/2019 and only stats accumulated while playing for the Lightning will be considered.

Forwards

First Line

Ondrej Palat (102-201-303, 0.66 PPG, 458 GP) - Steven Stamkos (362-350-712, 1.09 PPG, 655 GP) - Martin St. Louis (123-221-344, 1.11 PPG, 311 GP)

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are the easiest inclusions here on the first line. St. Louis has the best points per games played of any Lightning forward in the decade. Stamkos comes in right behind him in second and has the most goal, assists, and points scored during the decade of any Lightning player. Ondrej Palat is also the best pure left winger to have played for the Lightning. His story of being a seventh round, overage pick and turning into a bona fide top six winger is also a great one to go along side St. Louis and juxtaposed against Stamkos being a first overall pick.

Second Line

J.T. Miller (23-42-65, 0.69 PPG, 94 GP) - Brayden Point (103-118-221, 0.86 PPG, 257 GP) - Nikita Kucherov (198-298-496, 1.04 PPG, 477 GP)

Last season, Brayden Point surpassed Vincent Lecavalier, in my opinion, as the second best center of the decade. Point broke through the 100 goal plateau (one of only seven Lightning forwards to have done so). He’s also fourth among this decade’s forwards in points per game, right behind his right winger for this line, Nikita Kucherov who has 1.04 PPG. Miller wasn’t in Tampa for long, but he had a big impact in the season and a half he was with the team. He’s sixth in points per game among forwards in the decade and I think deserves to be here because of how good he was even in just a short time.

Third Line

Alex Killorn (114-173-287, 0.53 PPG, 546 GP) - Vincent Lecavalier (72-96-168, 0.8 PPG, 210 GP) - Tyler Johnson (146-176-322, 0.65 PPG, 496 GP)

Killorn is lower down on the points per game list, but his longevity and consistency, as well as being one of the seven forwards to score at least 100 goals in the decade, gets him this spot. He’s been a reliable forward for the Lightning since 2012-13 and continues to be so even as he just turned 30 years old. He’s also the player that has been with the organization the longest as he was drafted in 2007, a year before Stamkos.

Lecavalier is one of the best centers to play for the Lightning and even though he dealt with injuries in his last few seasons with the Lightning, he was still a very productive player. Ultimately, he was the victim of a salary cap hit that was too much to bear, especially after the rules were changed in the 2013 CBA which also allowed his buy out without any salary cap penalties.

I’ve also moved Johnson over to the right wing here in taking a little bit of a liberty since there aren’t as many right wingers I got excited about. Johnson has played all three forward positions throughout his time with the Lightning. Some injuries have kept him from being a true star player, but he’s been a producer in the top six for a long time now.

Fourth Line

Simon Gagne (17-23-40, 0.63 PPG, 63 GP) - Anthony Cirelli (30-41-71, 0.55 PPG, 130 GP) - Yanni Gourde (59-78-137, 0.64 PPG, 215 GP)

Cirelli and Gourde are relative new comers to the Lightning having only been with the team over the last few years. But they’ve both made an immediate impact to the team with how they’ve played. Cirelli continues his ascension to being a better offensive player while being one of the best defensive centers we’ve seen in this decade.

Gagne might seem like an odd inclusion, especially since he only played one season, but it was a good season for the Lightning. Yzerman picked him up for cheap from the Philadelphia Flyers to help bolster the 2010-11 team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also recorded five goals and 12 points in 15 playoff games. It would also be his last good season in the NHL as he sputtered out over the next few seasons.

Extra Forward

Brian Boyle (41-25-66, 0.31 PPG, 212 GP)

I had a really hard time making this decision for the extra forward. Ultimately, I went with Boyle because of how popular he was in his two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay. He was a big body, that played a physical fourth line game, won faceoffs, and played on the penalty kill. He was respected and well loved by the Lightning. But I do want to acknowledge some of the other players I considered for this spot.

  • Teddy Purcell - Purcell played a lot with Steven Stamkos and recorded 67 goals and 203 points over 310 games. A shoulder injury though limited him and made it hard for him to shoot the puck and repeat the big season he had that got him a nice contract.
  • Valtteri Filppula - Other than being big and physical, a lot of what I said about Boyle applies to Filppula. Except Filppula had a lot more offense to his game.
  • Ryan Callahan - I don’t think I need to explain this, but a lot of what I said about Boyle and Filppula applies here too, except he was far more popular in his early years with the team than Filppula ever was.
  • Dominic Moore - Moore was a good bottom six center for the Lightning scoring 22 goals and 51 points over 133 games. He stepped away from hockey when his wife was diagnosed with cancer and then later passed away. He started a charity ping pong tournament and his relationship with teammates and players from around the league have lead to a number of his former Lightning teammates to participate; Steven Stamkos, Brett Connolly, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis, Rob Zamuner, and even former Tampa Bay Rays player Johnny Damon who played for the Rays while Moore was with the Lightning.

Defense

First Pairing

Victor Hedman (98-336-434, 0.63 PPG, 687 GP) - Anton Stralman (29-101-130, 0.37 PPG, 355 GP)

Two Swedes at the top of the defense. Hedman has won a Norris Trophy and has become the best defenseman to ever play for the Lightning and one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Stralman wasn’t as flashy offensively, especially in the latter years of his contract since he did not see much power play time. He was defensively reliable though and made a superb partner for Hedman.

Second Pairing

Ryan McDonagh (12-46-58, 0.46 PPG, 127 GP) - Pavel Kubina (7-27-34, 0.26 PPG, 131 GP)

McDonagh was acquired at the trade deadline in 2018 and gave the Lightning a second #1 defenseman for the blue line. Even without much power play time, McDonagh has produced offensively while forming a shutdown pair for the Lightning. Kubina on the other hand didn’t produce a ton of offensive in this decade in his second stint with the Lightning. He was coming to the end of his career after all. But he was a stout defender and was a good example for Victor Hedman while he was still developing in the NHL.

Third Pairing

Mikhail Sergachev (19-69-88, 0.48 PPG, 185 GP) - Braydon Coburn (12-51-63, 0.19 PPG, 327 GP)

Sergachev was acquired a year after he was drafted in exchange for Jonathan Drouin. He stepped right into the NHL and immediately had an impact. It’s amazing to think that he’s only 185 games into his career, but is starting to play like a defenseman with a lot more experience. He’s had the offensive game from day one in the NHL, but the defensive part of his game is really coming around and he’s turning into a steal from that trade.

Coburn has gotten a rough ride from fans at times, but he’s been a good defenseman for the Lightning in his time with the team. When he came over from the Philadelphia Flyers, he was playing a top four role for them. With the Lightning’s defensive depth, he was able to take a step back to the third pairing, play less minutes, and be even more effective on the defensive end of the puck.

Extra Defenseman

Marc-Andre Bergeron (7-30-37, 0.47 PPG, 78 GP)

I didn’t have as much trouble with this pick as I did for the extra forward. Bergeron wasn’t with the team for long, but boy was he fun to watch. He was a small, mobile, offensively minded defenseman before it was cool to be that. At 5’9” and 190 pounds, he didn’t fit the mold of an NHL defenseman when he entered the league full time in 2003-04. He was a power play specialist recording more goals (44) and assists (80) on the power play than he did at even strength (38 and 72 respectively) in his career.

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy - Ben Bishop

This one was as easy as it gets. Bishop was a multiple time Vezina Trophy finalist with the Lightning and set numerous franchise records with the team. Andrei Vasilevskiy finally broke through the Lightning and won a Vezina Trophy and has also broken most of Bishop’s franchise records. I didn’t even need to look at any of the stats of other goaltenders to play for the Lightning in this decade, the decision was that easy.

Conclusions

The Lightning have been fortunate to have had a lot of great players play for them this decade, and even more that didn’t get featured on this roster. We’re also fortunate that many of these players are still with the team and will be playing well into the next decade. Disagree with my picks? Let me know in the comments. I’d also encourage you to create your own All-Decade Team and see what you come up with!