This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
Tampa Bay Lightning
1. Martin St. Louis (820)
2. Steven Stamkos (399)
3. Dave Andreychuk (185)
4. Vincent Lecavalier (166)
The Lightning drafted two high-profile centers first overall (Stamkos and Lecavalier) and employed a different player who won a Conn Smythe Trophy (Brad Richards), yet fans voted undrafted forward Martin St. Louis as the greatest Lightning player ever.
It would be interesting to see how differently fans might vote after, say, five more years of Stamkos* … but right now, St. Louis is an easy choice even after his painful trade-related divorce from last season.
In 13 seasons with the team, St. Louis scored 953 points in 972 regular season games (a franchise record), scored 68 points in 63 postseason contests (another franchise record) while collecting one Hart and two Art Ross trophies. He was a huge part of the team’s lone Stanley Cup victory and also helped the Bolts come within one win of a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2011.
Beyond that, St. Louis was a consistent performer in a franchise that seemed to experience lows that were just as dramatic as the peak moments (and more bleak than bright ones in that). The 39-year-old seems likely to get booed the next time he plays in Tampa Bay, yet it is a virtual certainty that his No. 26 will be raised to the rafters one day.
* – If Stamkos is around for the long haul. of course.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.