The Tampa Bay Lightning was among the hottest teams in the NHL down the stretch of the 2016-17 regular season, but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.
The Bolts finished one point out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a disappointing end to a season of high expectations, after Tampa Bay made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference Final the following year.
Injuries played a part in the Bolts’ struggles.
Steven Stamkos was just starting to heat up in the middle of November when he suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery. He skated with the club late in the season but ultimately didn’t get into the lineup, playing in just 17 games. He had nine goals and 20 points at the time of his injury, although general manager Steve Yzerman wasn’t willing to use the injury bug as an excuse for his team’s failure to qualify for the playoffs.
The good news? Stamkos expects to be ready for the start of next season.
The Bolts lost Jason Garrison to Vegas in the expansion draft and traded forward Jonathan Drouin to Montreal. They did acquire highly touted prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in that deal with the Habs. They also signed veteran defenseman Dan Girardi and four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz, and then secured Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat on long-term deals.
Today at PHT, we will focus on the key storylines impacting the Lightning heading into next season.