Tampa Bay Lightning Forwards Outlook


Mar 22, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates up ice with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

To conclude our Tampa Bay Lightning outlook series, we look at the forwards today.

The Lightning has one of the most dynamic offenses in the NHL and score goals with regularity. Last season they averaged 2.83 goals per game, good for ninth in the league.

With the news that Ryan Callahan has officially re-signed with the Bolts, they now have 10 forwards signed: Steven Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, Teddy Purcell, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Nate Thompson, J.T. Brown and B.J. Crombeen.

Nikita Kucherov, Cedric Paquette, Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Connolly and Cody Kunyk, who all made appearances for the Lightning last year, are also signed. The Bolts also have last years first round draft choice Jonathan Drouin ready to make the leap to the NHL.

Richard Panik is the only remaining restricted free agent forward who has yet to be offered a qualifying deal.

The only unrestricted free agent the Lightning has at forward is Tom Pyatt, who will look for opportunities elsewhere due to the crowd of talent the Bolts have up front. The Lightning used their second compliance buyout on Ryan Malone earlier today so he is now an unrestricted free agent.

Rather than breaking down each player, I’m going to take a look at the players who will definitely be on the Lightning roster, the guys who are on the borderline of making the NHL, and the players who will spend the majority of the season at Syracuse.

If you missed our goaltenders and defensemen outlooks they can be found by clicking here and here.

NHL Guarantees

Stamkos, Filppula, Callahan, Johnson, Palat, Brown, Killorn, Crombeen, Thompson and Purcell will all be guaranteed spots on the NHL roster. There is a chance Purcell is moved (read here) but it appears unlikely.

Due to their contracts all 10 guys should be in the line-up pretty much every night, baring any unforeseen circumstances.

You can add Drouin to the list too to make it 11. He dominated in the QMJHL this season and it’s logical that he starts the year in the NHL. While it’s a major move to make your pro debut in the NHL, Drouin is ready for it.

So assuming Cooper goes with 12 forwards, that only leaves one more spot open. It could be for a free agent, so that cannot be dismissed.

If we stick in house though, the nod probably goes to Kucherov. He played in 52 games scoring nine times and totalling 18 points. The other option would be Paquette who only played two regular season games (with an assist) but also played in all four playoff games where he had two helpers.

Borderline NHL

The first two names on the list are the two we just mentioned in Kucherov and Paquette. They need to play somewhere next season but it’s tough to tell if it’ll be in the NHL or the AHL. More than likely, they both stay with the NHL and a rotation of sorts is formed between those two guys and some of the 3rd/4th liners.

Some other guys who could step in to the Lightning line-up include Connolly, Panik(when signed) and Namestnikov. They both saw limited action last season and they’ve proven to be very good AHL players already. They’re the AAAA players of hockey in a way — too good for the AHL but can’t quite stick in the NHL.

AHL Only

The Lightning continue to develop great forward prospects but these three guys, who we’ll see in the NHL at some point in the next few years, need to spend the season at Syracuse.

The three guys are Adam Erne, Joel Vermin and Cody Kunyk. Having a complete season in the AHL will prove to be invaluable in their progress as they make their way to the NHL. It should be noted that Erne could go back to Quebec in the QMJHL but it’d be more beneficial to stay in the AHL, where he played at the end of last season.


The Bolts have so much forward depth and talent it’s insane. They have their guys at the NHL level set, they have the players needed to come up to the big club if called upon, and they also have the future NHLers plying their trade in Syracuse this upcoming season.

Safe to say, the outlook for the Lightning at the forward position is extremely good.