Steve Yzerman is a Genius

And if the other 10 billion hockey blogs out there haven't shown you why, let me try to explain real quick.

First of all, Tampa Bay has been a disaster area since the pre-lockout days (excluding 03-04) and it's no easy task to turn a team from fender-bender to Cup-contender in a single summer.

The wheels were set in motion by Brian Lawton, who smartly grabbed Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman in the draft. Key pieces were already in place in the form of Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Paul Ranger, Mattias Ohlund, and Mike Smith.

But Mr. Yzerman has played a part in bringing Simon Gagne, Dan Ellis, Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark, Dominic Moore, Chris Durno, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot to the team. All of those guys with the possible exceptions of Durno and Pouliot will be key players on Tampa this year, and Durno and Pouliot could fill valuable roles as well.

If you look at the potential line-up for the Lightning at this moment, it's actually composed of some pretty solid players:

Gagne - - - - Lecavalier - - - - St. Louis
Malone - - - - Stamkos - - - - Downie
Purcell - - - - Moore - - - - Hall (Minors)
Szczechura(Minors) - Pouliot - Persson(?)

But that's just judging from who's on the actual roster. Tampa also has Blair Jones, Martins Karsums, and James Wright ready to be called up at any time, and prospects Juraj Simek, Mitch Fritz, and Dana Tyrell are all but ready for a bigger role with the team.

As for defense, things are a little thinner, but not awful:

Ohlund - - Kubina
Clark - - Ranger
Hedman - - Lundin
Smaby - - Roy/Vernace

And in the wings, defenders Matt Lashoff, Vladimir Mihalik, and Ty Wishart are all NHL-capable and probably even ready for a full role.

In goal, I envie the tandem of Dan Ellis and Mike Smith. Especially because both of those guys were Stars prospects at one point. Despite the inconsistencies of each of these netminders, they each have the talent to fill in for each other if one starts faltering. Ellis has the better record as a starter, but Mike Smith was an excellent 20+ games back-up in his years in Dallas, and he can do it again.

Steve Yzerman, I applaud how well you've put together this team. I hope you make the playoffs this year.

No comments: