Tampa Bay Lightning: 36-18-7, 79 pts, 2nd in East, 1st in Southeast
With one of the most potent offenses in the league, the Lightning have rocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and given the Capitals some serious competition in the Southeast. Led by Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, the Bolts are a threat to score goals in bunches every single night, and get production from up and down their lineup. Amazingly enough, even with as many goals as they have scored (189 – 3rd in the East), their goal differential sits at 0, since they struggle to keep the puck out of their own net.
The Bolts made perhaps their most important move of the season when they traded for veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson, who was proving he still had what it takes to be an NHL starter with the Islanders. Since joining the Bolts, Roloson has gone 11-6-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .906 save percentage, better numbers than either Dan Ellis or Mike Smith had posted. Ellis was then dealt to Anaheim for backup keeper Curtis McElhinney. With Roloson as the starter and Smith available to back him up when needed, the Bolts don’t exactly have the greatest goalie tandem in the league, but it should be serviceable enough to keep them competitive in the postseason. >
With such a talented roster, the Lightning don’t have many needs. They could use a puck-moving defenseman, but with Pavel Kubina on the roster, and both Brett Clark and Victor Hedman scoring points with some regularity, it’s not exactly a necessity.
If anyone was to be traded, veteran forward Simon Gagne would probably be at the top of the list. Teddy Purcell’s emergence as a legitimate top-six forward has made Gagne somewhat expendable, and he’s never really lived up to expectations since joining the Bolts. Gagne’s veteran playoff experience would be invaluable in the postseason, especially on a relatively young club, but it’s not like there aren’t a few other vets on the club that could guide the youth. If the offer’s right, Gagne could be playing elsewhere.