Can re-invented Bolts keep winning?

by Gary Shelton on July 4, 2023

in general

Killorn is taking his career to Ahaheim./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Now that the dust is mostly settled, I’m going to need a new program.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has blown up the bottom half of its roster, and who knows if the window of contention is still open?

Alex Killorn is gone, and he’s taking his knack for scoring a clutch goal with him. The Lighting portion of Killer’s career has died.

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Pat Maroon is gone, and who knows where to turn when an opponent really needs a punch in the nose? From now on, the Big Rig is parked in Minnesota.

Corey Perry is gone, along with all of his one-foot goals. Yeah, that’s a compliment.

Ross Colton is gone, and his attempts to be the new blood the team required.

And here we go, in the annual re-invention of the Bolts. For all they have lost, there are the new faces — Conor Sheary, Josh Archibald, Luke Glendening, Calvin de Haan — enough to fill the holes.

We’ll see.

Look, teams are never the same. You probably think of the Lightning as a fairly consistent crew because the stars haven’t left. This team still has Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel. Those guys have won a lot of hockey games, and they’ll win more.

But over the years, the Lightning’s roster has been a fluid one. They’ve managed to skate ahead despite the losses of Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman and Ryan McDonough and Luke Schenn. A case could be made that the Lighting has lost as much talent as most teams over the last few years. That happens when you win Stanley Cups.

Oh, it’s hard to blame the Bolts for moving on. It's good for Killorn that he's making $25 million over the next four years, but that's a little rich for a 34-year-old player. Perry is 38. Maroon is 35. You could argue for Colton over a draft pick, but sometimes, you have to move a player.

That said, the feel of the Lightning will be changed more than ever this year. It’s not just because of the goals — Killorn, Colton, Perry and Maroon combined for 60 last year  — but because the fans had gotten to know them, their personalities , their strengths and their shortcomings.

Granted, the happens in hockey, especially when a team is pushed against the cap every year. The Lightning is more interested in draft picks as trade bait than as potential replacements, and  so it is always going to fight against the impression that it’s aging as long as the stars are here. And no one wants to see those guys go.

Still, re-invention is hard. The Lightning’s slumps may last a little longer. It’s firepower may show off a little less. 

But it’s still a good club.

Will it be a great one? We’ll see.

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