Tampa Bay Lightning preview

Overview: Many people have the Tampa Bay Lightning pegged as their Cinderella team (I believe it will be another team), but the Lighting have been making all the right moves in the offseason.

One of the most important is the trade to acquire Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia Flyers. Gagne, when healthy, is a great player who can easily put up 70 points, and is a decent defensive player.

And if that’s the case, that could mean a comeback year for Vincent Lecavalier. Vinny needs a spark, because in the past few years, he’s just not getting it done. Once considered the leader of the Lightning, he has seen other talent usurp him on the depth chart, and that can’t sit well for the former #1 overall draft pick.

Best offseason move: Making Steve Yzerman their general manager. They finally went out and got someone who knows how to build a hockey team (slowly), doesn’t overpay for free agents, doesn’t make stupid trades, etc. Yzerman knows the key to success is not to build a team that can make the playoffs one year, but then miss it for a couple more. Instead, he wants to build a nucleus, get better, and make players want to sign in Tampa.

Worst offseason move: Signing Steve Downie for two years at $1.85 million per season. That’s a little much, I think, for a cheap shot artist who had a good year last year thanks to his linemates. We’ll see how his career turns out, but for now, he’s a little overpaid.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Mattias Ohlund for the Norris.

Pool pick: Simon Gagne. As stated above, when healthy, Gagne could put up 70 points. But if he gets injured, it’s usually a long layoff, and he’ll finish with 30 points. I expect Gagne to stay healthy, and could hit the 80-point mark this season for the first time in his career. Who to stay away from: Steve Downie. He had 46 points last year, and could be playing with any combination of Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagne, Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis. Or he could do something stupid, get suspended, and see his ice time dwindle as punishment.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the 2009-10 Tampa Bay Lightning roster?

Best hall of fame choice: Vincent Lecavalier. He’s won a Stanley Cup, a Rocket Richard trophy and a King Clancy award. The past couple years, people have been wondering where he’s been because he’s an offyear, but an offyear for him is still 70 points. If he plays until 38, let’s say, at this pace, he’ll finish with 1,300 points and 526 goals.

Blog to follow: Lightning Hockey Blog

My Prediction: Second in the Southeast, seventh in the East

Famous celebrity from that city: Brooke Hogan

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