2011-12 Season Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

After falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning are ready to start the 2011-12 campaign in search of getting back to the playoffs and once again contending for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

When free agency opened on July 1st, general manager Steve Yzerman did not hold back as he began to make the necessary moves to fill the holes that were created by those players that had left and signed with other teams.

Steven Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for five year/$37.5 million on July 19th. Stamkos finished the 2010-11 season with 45 goals, 45 assists for 91 points. In his NHL career he has 119 goals, 113 goals, 232 points.

Who’s Out: LW – Simon Gagne (LAK), LW – Sean Bergenheim (FLA), LW – Chris Durno (CAR), D – Matt Smaby (ANA), D – Randy Jones (WPG), and G – Mike Smith (PHO).

Who’s In: RW – Ryan Shannon, LW – Alexandre Picard, C – Trevor Smith, C – Tom Pyatt, D – Matt Gilroy, D – Bruno Gervais, and G – Mathieu Garon.

Player on the rise: Teddy Purcell. Purcell, 26, recorded career numbers playing in 81 regular season games in 2010-11 (17G – 34A – 51PTS). During the playoffs, his production continued recording six goals, 11 assists for 17 points in 18 games played.

Player to keep an eye on: Ryan Shannon. The 5’ 9” forward played in 79 regular season games with the Ottawa Senators last year and recorded 11 goals, 16 assists. Shannon has gone from sleeper to a quality production player. Could possibly be seen playing with his idol, Martin St. Louis.

Tampa Bay will start the season with their longest road trip during 2011-12 and do not open at home until October 17th vs. Florida Panthers.

Dates to Remember: Oct. 8th at Boston Bruins; Oct. 10th at Washington Capitals; and then the six games against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 29th, Nov. 14th, Feb. 2nd, Feb. 23rd, Mar. 31st, and on APR. 7th. The former Atlanta Thrashers team has lost 11 straight against the Bolts. Tampa Bay will try and prevent them from exiting the Southeast Division on a high note and keeping that streak alive.

The team itself is not the only thing getting Lightning fans excited as the St. Pete Times Forum has undergone renovations during this offseason estimated at $35 million. The transformation will be noticed prior to entering the arena as a new grand entry on the west side, which is still under construction and will feature a newly designed box office and merchandise store. Every fan will enjoy new seats as they have all been replaced; and something that will especially benefit those on the Terrace Level will be an 11,000 square foot outdoor deck overlooking downtown Tampa. Eight suites on the plaza level open up to the renovated main concourse which includes new flooring and concessions. Two Terrace level sections have been removed creating space for a performance stage that includes a pipe organ. Two coils have been installed and will shoot lightning 25 feet across the arena in each direction.

Improvements in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning throughout the arena for the comfort of the fans and improving ice conditions for players. Lightning players will be treated to an enhanced team locker room.

Offense:

Martin St. Louis – Steven Stamkos – Ryan Malone
Teddy Purcell – Vincent Lecavalier – Ryan Shannon
Steve Downie – Nate Thompson – Dana Tyrell
Adam Hall – Tom Pyatt – Dominic Moore
Mattias Ritola

Defense:

Eric Brewer – Victor Hedman
Brett Clark – Pavel Kubina
Matt Gilroy – Bruno Gervais
Marc-Andre Bergeron

*Mattias Ohlund is currently on Injured Reserve.

Goaltenders:

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

Coaching Staff/Front Office

Head Coach: Guy Boucher
Assistant Coach: Dan Lacroix
Assistant Coach: Martin Raymond
Goaltending Coach: Frantz Jean
Video Coach: Nigel Kirwan

General Manager: Steve Yzerman
CEO: Tod Leiweke
Chairman/Governor: Jeff Vinik