Tampa Bay Lightning 2021 Season Preview
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 2020)

The 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, have their fair share of issues. Their captain, Steven Stamkos, missed most of the last postseason, and their front line winger, Nikita Kuchorov will miss this upcoming season due to a hip injury and surgery. 

Tampa Bay GM, Julien BriseBois did not bring any new players to the team this off-season. However, lots of players signed contract extensions including Luke Schenn and Pat Maroon. 

Losses: Nikita Kucherov (injury) 

Nikita Kucherov was the star of the Bolts last season. Captain Steven Stamkos was out for most of the postseason due to a core muscle injury and Kucherov stepped up and delivered. Kucherov is a very expensive player so this does solve a few cap issues for BriseBois. 

Forward Line Predictions: 

Because the Kucherov announcement came out just a few days ago, I’m not sure who will take his place on the top line. I would guess they’ll put Steven Stamkos on the top line and Blake Coleman on the second line. They re-signed Mathieu Joseph who only played 37 games last season but he’ll more than likely be on the bottom six somewhere. 

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointSteven Stamkos 
Alex KillornAnthony Cirelli Blake Coleman
Barclay GoodrowYanni GourdeMathieu Joseph 
Pattrick Maroon Cedric PaquetteTyler Johnson
Defensive Pairing Predictions: 
Victor Hedman Erik Cernak
Mikhail SergachevRyan Mcdonagh
Brayden CoburnLuke Schenn
In the net: 

I really cannot imagine they’ll take Andrei Vasilevsky out of the net. He was absolutely incredible during the 2019-20 season, before and after the pause in play. He had a .927 save percentage and one total shutout in the series against Dallas. 

The Verdict: 

I think this will be a great season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ll make the playoffs without a doubt. I wouldn’t put it past them for another cup but you really can’t make that call for sure. Steven Stamkos is rumored to be available for opening night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Overall, there’s not much to complain about with the Bolts. Obviously, losing Kucherov isn’t ideal but they still have plenty of top-tier players and leftover momentum from last season.