Skilled Lightning eye another deep playoff run
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
LAST SEASON: 54-23-5, 113 points. Won Atlantic Division. Lost to Washington Capitals in Eastern Conference Finals.
COACH: Jon Cooper (sixth NHL season, 242-143-40, 36-28 playoffs).
ADDED: F Andy Andreoff.
LOST: F Chris Kunitz, G Peter Budaj, D Jake Dotchin.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov has taken the mantle from Steven Stamkos to become the Lightning’s most dynamic player. He scored a career-high 40 goals in 2016-17 and followed it up with 39 goals and 100 points last season. Kucherov signed an 8-year, $76 million contract extension in July.
OUTLOOK: Even with the surprising announcement of Steve Yzerman stepping down as general manager, it’s business as usual for the Lightning. The roster remains largely unchanged from last season and another deep playoff run is expected as long as Kucherov, Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy stay healthy.