John Romano: Does this Lightning posse have one last ride left in them?

John Romano, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Hockey

TAMPA, Fla. — When your team is still playing hockey in late June, no one questions your methods.

Trade draft picks? No problem. Trade prospects, too? It’s gotta be done. Push the salary cap, sign older players, spend millions on long-term injured reserve cases, take risks on rental players? All included in the price of success.

But, eventually, July arrives and so do the questions, doubts and dilemmas.

Yes, the Lightning can still be a force in the NHL in 2022-23. Any team with Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman is undoubtedly a contender.

General manger Julien BriseBois has done a brilliant job keeping the core of this team together, and the victories still coming, for the better part of a decade. The Lightning have been in 46 more playoff games than any franchise in the league since 2015. Forty-six! That’s the very definition of dominance.

But the calculations are getting harder and harder to come by, and the future is coming faster and faster. The farm system is fairly bare, and the roster was among the oldest in the postseason.


Starting in February 2018, the Lightning have dealt six first-round draft picks and three second-round picks to acquire Ryan McDonagh, Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, David Savard, Brandon Hagel and some long-term injured reserve players to create salary-cap space.

They have also traded prospects they had picked in the first rounds in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2019 (and three others from the second round) in deals for Blake Coleman, Mikhail Sergachev, Jan Rutta and others.

That’s 11 first-round picks and six second-round picks between 2012 and 2024 that are no longer part of Tampa Bay’s plans. That’s an entire generation of prospects sacrificed for immediate help.

Was it worth it?


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