Picking the Lightning’s top 25 performers

by Gary Shelton on March 16, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos is second on the all-time Lightning list./CARMEN MANDATO

Stamkos is second on the all-time Lightning list./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 4 a.m.

When a team is going well, the temptation is to toss confetti. You throw a parade. You schedule a party. You are warmed by the good vibes, and you hope they will last as long as possible.

And so it is with the Tampa Bay Lighting, a franchise that deserves to slap itself on the back a little bit.

If you hadn't heard, the Lightning has put it to a fan vote to honor the top 25 players of its history.

Now, try to forget, if you will, that the Lightning doesn't have a lot more than 25 quality players in its history.There have been two quality owners -- Bill Davidson and Jeff Vinik -- and Davidson kept trying to open the

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puck to see if there was a prize inside. There have been three top-level general managers -- Phil Esposito, Jeff Feaster and Steve Yzerman. There have been three keeper coaches -- Terry Crisp, John Tortorella and Jon Cooper. If you want a true top 25 of impact, you have to fit those eight men in and lopoff  players accordingly.

But players? Yeah, the Bolts have had some players.

So let's play along. We have 25 players on this roster: 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders. Agreed?

And here we go:

1. Martin St. Louis, forward: Yeah, you can bear a grudge if you want. St. Louis had an ugly end to his time in Tampa Bay, and I'm not sure we still have the complete story. But while he was here, St. Louis was responsible for the big goals. He's the second leading scorer in franchise history and the leader in assists He played in six all-star games.

2. Steven Stamkos, forward: Another no-brainer. Stamkos is not only one of three Lightning layers who has 348 goals or more, those three are the only players with more than 150. He's played in five all-star games.

3. Vinny Lecavalier, forward: Lecavalier was intensely talented, and Jay Feaster's decision not to trade him may be the wisest one in the history if the Bolts. He played in four all-star games.

4. Victor Hedman, defenseman: He plays on a team with stars, but you can make a case that Hedman is the best of them all. He's in his ninth season of averaging than 20 minutes of ice time per game.

5. Nikita Kucherov, forward: Kucherov currently leads in the NHL in scoring.  He has a chance at his second straight 40-goal season.

6. Brad Richards, forward: Richard's career in Tampa Bay was curtailed by another regrettable move by the Oren Koules ownership group. Richards won the Con Smythe and the Lady Bing in 2003-2004. He never had a 30-goal season, but he had 10 20-goal seasons.

7. Dave Andreychuk, forward: Andreychuk compiled a lot of goals elsewhere, but in Tampa Bay, his big thing was leadership. He set the pace for the young Lightning in their heyday.

8: Dan Boyle, defenseman: A solid attacking forward for the Bolts. He played in two all-star games in his career.

9. Fred Modin, forward: People forget how rugged Modin was in front of the net, but he scored 145 goals for the Bolts.

10. Roman Hamrlik, defenseman: The original No. 1 draft pick of the Bolts. He played in three all-star games while in the NHL

11. Nikolai Khabibulin, goalie: Fans forget that Khabibulin was benched during the Stanley Cup year and won only 28 games. But he got hot in the playoffs and led the Bolts, including a shutout in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup.

12. Brayden Point, forward: Yes, he's young. But in overtimes and shootouts, Point looks mature enough. There is no doubt about his place on the roster

13. Brian Bradley, forward: In the Jurassic Period of the franchise, Bradley was an original star. he made two all-star games and had a reputation for toughness.

14. Pavel Kubina, forward: One of the lasting impressions of the final Stanley Cup game was Kubina, refusing the leave the ice, sliding on his belly again and again in glee. He was a solid 20-minute performer for much of his time here.

15. Vinny Prospal, forward: An underappreciated performer. Had an 80-point season in 2005-2006.

16. Darryl Sydor, defenseman: It was the trade for Sydor that put the Lightning over the hump the championship year.

17. Ben Bishop, goaltender: Won 40 games in his last full season in Tampa Bay

18. Andrei Vasilevskiy, goaltender: If you're betting on a player to move up the list, bet on Vasi who won 40 games this season.

19. Dino Ciccarelli, forward: In 1997, he scored 35 goals to make the all-star team for the Bolts.

20. Anton Stralman, defenseman: He doesn't have the reputation of Hedman, his lineman, but Stralman has been a smart, steady defender for years.

21. Jassen Cullimore, defenseman: Cullimore was a safe, steady defenseman for the Stanley Cup winning team. He left the following season, which didn't help.

22. Petr Svobova, defenseman: Svolboda made the all-star game in 2000 for the Bolts at the end of his career.

23. Tyler Johnson, forward: Johnson's career hasn't blossomed the way fans thought when he made the 2015 all-star game. But he's scored 20 goals for the third time this season.

24. Mikael Anderson, defenseman: A steady player for the Bolts throughout the 90s.

25. Chris Gratton, forward: Gratton will always be remembered for two things. He had a 30-goal season in 96-97, and for the blurry fax that occurred when the Flyers swiped him.

Non-Players

1. Jeff Vinik: The most admired owner in Tampa Bay sports ... by a lot.

2. Phil Esposito: The Lightning remain his brainchild, and he remains the most accomplished man in the building..

3. Steve Yzerman: Whether it's contracts or trades, he continues to lead with precision.

4. John Tortorella: He could be a perpetual bad mood, but he changed the identity of this team.

5. Jon Cooper: He's calm when his team is in trouble. That approach keeps him from losing the locker room.

6. Bill Davidson: Davidson wasn't the biggest hockey fan in the world, but the Bolts won under his leadership.

7. Jay Feaster: He brought calm to the Bolts. He refused to trade Lecavalier.

8. Terry Crisp: Crisp won faster than he was expected to win, and he did it changing a fiery personality.

9.  Guy Boucher: Boucher got to the Eastern Conference finals with just another Lightning team.

10. Jacques Demers: Demers came in talking tough, but down deep, he was a nice guy.

 

 

 

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