The Tampa Bay Lightning is in a good place as the 2021-22 season approaches. Coming off back-to-back runs as the Stanley Cup Champions, there isn’t much more they could ask for. They were able to keep their core mostly intact, despite a tight cap and an Expansion Draft, and they are ready to make a third attempt at taking Lord Stanley out on some boats yet again.
Where they left off
In case you forgot, the last time we saw the Lightning, they were drinking beers out of the Stanley Cup in a boat parade in Florida. To be fair, the back-to-back seasons they won it all were unlike any other. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting the 2019-20 season on hold, only to get back into it months after the league was shut down, and the 2020-21 season shifting the divisions around, they won under some special circumstances.
Regardless, the Lightning ended their season on the best possible note. They defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. They were able to lift the Cup in front of their home fans in 2021, something they didn’t get to do when they won the season before. Then came the boat parades.
2021 Entry Draft
The Lightning had seven selections to make in the 2021 entry draft, but their first pick didn’t come until the third round, where they selected Roman Schmidt (96 overall), a defenseman from the U.S. National U18 Team. They added another U.S National U18 team player, forward Dylan Duke in the fourth round (126 overall).
In the fifth round, they grabbed forward Cameron MacDonald (160 overall), and snagged defenseman Alex Gagne (192) in the sixth round. Armed with three selections in the seventh round, the Bolts selected defensemen Daniil Pylenkov (196 overall) with a pick from the New Jersey Devils, forward Robert Flinton (211 overall) with a pick from the Nashville Predators, and forward Niko Huuhtanen (224 overall).
Most media outlets will tell you that the Lightning kept its core intact during the off-season. Those people fail to acknowledge former San Jose Sharks 4C and Stanley Cup Playoff legend, Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow was ultimately passed along to the New York Rangers, where he scored a pretty nice pay day Tampa could not afford. In parting ways with Goodrow, the team received a 2022 seventh-round draft pick.
Other than that, the core is still intact. Pat Maroon, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and the whole gang are back. However, the team did dump their whole third line. We already talked about sweet Goodrow’s departure, but his linemates Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman have left the building as well. Gourde was left unprotected and thus selected by the Seattle Kraken in the summer’s Expansion Draft, while Coleman is headed to the Calgary Flames, who he signed with for six years in free agency.
The biggest issue for the Lightning has been cap space. They had to bid farewell to a few players because of money trouble. However, they decided to add human garbage can Corey Perry to their roster for some reason. So, there’s that.
This is the lineup Daily Faceoff predicts:
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos
Mathieu Joseph — Ross Colton — Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — Cal Foote
What can we expect in 2021-22?
It’s no secret the Lightning are hungry for the Cup yet again. They’ve already had a taste for it two years in a row, now they’re out for blood. This could go either way — they could absolutely conquer the league, or they could crack under the pressure. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the last team to win back-to-back Cups, and they couldn’t snag a third consecutive one. Could the Lightning do it this season?
Regardless, they are going to be the team to watch. Can they keep their championship runs going as the league returns to business as usual this season? This season is all or nothing for the Lightning.
The Sharks and Lightning will meet twice this season, but not until after the new year. The Sharks will play host first on Jan. 22, 2022. Nine days later, the Sharks will visit Amalie Arena on Feb. 1 for their final match up ahead of the All-Star and Olympic breaks.