Tampa Bay Lightning fans. I have an announcement. The official mourning period is over. The Stanley Cup playoffs have concluded. The St. Louis Blues have won the Cup. It has been 58 days since the Lightning were eliminated from the playoffs. It’s time to take off your black clothes. It’s time to move on. The mourning is finished.
It’s time now for us to look ahead to the coming season. It’s time for us to get excited again. We have Steven Stamkos ,Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and so many more great players to cheer for. The core is still together. There’s likely to be little change to the overall roster with just a few adjustments and a makeover of the blue line.
The Buy Out Period will also begin on June 15th and concludes on June 30th. Ryan Callahan is the only real buy-out candidate for the Lightning. If the team cannot facilitate a trade of Callahan before the 30th, then he could end up having his contract bought out. This is something that we’ll need to keep an eye on until the end of the month.
The NHL Awards are coming next Wednesday, June 19th. Nikita Kucherov is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP. He’s also in contention for the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted on by the NHLPA. Victor Hedman is a Norris Trophy finalist for best defenseman. Andrei Vasilevskiy is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender. Jon Cooper is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the best coach. The playoffs were a disappointment, but the regular season was spectacular and this is a time to celebrate what the Lightning accomplished during the season.
After the awards show, we move right into the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, June 21st. We’ve already started draft profiles here on RawCharge.com of prospects that we’re interested in. We made our SBNation.com mock draft selection. Join us Friday and Saturday as we cover everything that goes on with the draft here and on Twitter. We’ll cover all of the Lightning’s draft picks as well as any trade news that goes down during the weekend.
Following the NHL Draft weekend, the early negotiating period for free agents will begin. During that time, teams will be able to meet with and talk to pending free agents. Deals can’t be made during this time, but pitches to players can and will take place. On Monday, July 1st, free agency will open and teams will be free to sign players. There is the possibility that the Lightning could be in on a big fish. At a minimum, the Lightning will be looking to plug in some holes here and there at the NHL level as well as the AHL level for the Syracuse Crunch.
Within a week or two of the draft, the Lightning will also hold a development camp in Tampa. The Lightning’s draftees from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft will be invited to Tampa to get some time working with coaches on and off the ice, as well as meeting fellow prospects. Other prospects from the past couple of drafts will also be in attendance as they get some summer work on the ice in. It’s also an opportunity for the strength and conditioning staff to work with prospects on their summer workout plans. There will also be some undrafted invitees that will at least fill in some space, but could also be potential signings down the line for the Lightning.
But my main point, Lightning fans, is that it’s time to move on from the 2018-19 season. It’s over. It’s done. Now, we’re into the 2019-20 season. It’s time to look ahead. There’s a lot of work to be done this summer. There’s a lot to be excited about. But the most important thing is to know that the future is still bright for this team and I’m excited for the 2019-20 season.