Over the next few weeks, we’re running a bracket to determine the best Tampa Bay Lightning team in franchise history. Each day, we’ll put two of the 27 teams since the inaugural season in 1992-1993 up against each other to determine a winner until we’re left with who the community thinks is the best version of the Lightning.
Welcome to Round Two! This is the first time we’re meeting the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning as they earned a bye in the first round of our bracket. They are facing the #17 seed 2009-10 Bolts team that “upset” the #16 seed, the 1994-95 squad. You can read Alan’s analysis of that showdown in the link below.
As for this bracket, let’s welcome the favorites.
2003-04 Lightning (46-22-8-6, 106 points, Champions)
In the final season before the salary cap era came to the NHL, 40-year-old Dave Andreychuk led an 11-season old franchise to Stanley Cup glory. As someone who wasn’t a hockey fan, let alone a Lightning fan back then, I’m not able to tell any cool stories from the hay days. But I would like to bring to the fore some interesting pieces of the puzzle that helped put Tampa Bay on the Stanley Cup.
The team was led by Martin St. Louis, who scored 38 goals and 94 points in the regular season, and then a further nine goals and 24 points in 23 playoff games, to not only earn him the Art Ross and Hart, but cement his place as one of hockey’s greats. Also he’s a spitting image of some of the best small hockey players in this league today. That kind of legacy has got to count for something, too, right?
Along with MSL, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards were the backbone of the offense. Richards led the team in scoring in the playoffs with 26 in 23, while Vinny was second in regular season goals (32).
I didn’t know this until I came across it while researching this article, but Cory Stillman and Freddy Modin had unbelievable career years with the Lightning while in their prime (which, at the time, was your late-20s). Stillman’s 80 points out-paced everyone save for MSL in the regular season, and Modin was both fifth in regular season scoring and third in playoff scoring for the Lightning. Neither player recreated their success points-wise earlier or later in their careers.
Acquired for one season by the Lightning from the St. Louis Blues, Stillman was actually traded for the second-round pick that turned into David Backes, who has a chance to hit 1000 games once hockey returns. Props to the Blues for hitting on that pick, but considering the Lightning got 80 points and a ring out of the deal, it seems hard to complain. Winning erases everything.
As for Modin, the Lightning got them from the Leafs, who of course, botched the player and pick they got back, as they did so often in that era. Modin played six years for the Lightning, amassing 286 points in 445 games for the team from ‘99 to ‘06.
Four years ago, Geo provided an update on where the members of the Championship team were during the 2015-16 season. A lot of them retired, obviously, but there were still some active players around the league.
Here’s another update:
Vincent Lecavalier: retired at the end of the 2015-16 season, still getting paid ~$1.7 million by the Lightning until 2027.
Brad Richards: retired after 2015-16. His contract with the New York Rangers would’ve expired this summer if it wasn’t bought out in 2014. He’s on their books until 2026.
Dan Boyle: retired after 2015-16 as well. Finished with 1093 games played with 605 points.
Ruslan Fedotenko: retired after 2015-16 after some time back in the AHL.
Martin Cibak: retired in 2016-17 after a season in Slovakia
2009-2010 (34-36-12, 25th place)
The year before both Jeff Vinik and Steve Yzerman joined the team and brought forth a needed rebuild.
This team finished sixth last in the league and whiffed on their first pick, Brett Connolly. They got Radko Gudas in the third round, but it’s hard to feel good about missing on the #7 pick in the 2010 draft: Jeff Skinner. Fun fact, Frederik Andersen was drafted one spot after the Lightning’s last pick in the seventh round, Teigan Zahn.
It feels like a no-brainer, to be honest.
Which is the better Lightning team?
This poll is closed
- Spoiler Alert, but after finishing her 2021 Draft prospect rankings, Lauren is headed full-steam towards the 2020 crop as the NHL jostles for a time and format to hold the event. Read all 21 profiles below. Some amazing insight into who to watch, how, and why.
- Another Raw Charge Book Recommendation!
There was no other hockey news on Friday, just a lot of conflicting reports on what the NHL is doing, or not doing, and planning, or not planning to do. Sorry.