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How Tampa Bay’s NHL Odds Went From Favorites to Fading?

Franchise Suffers Second Straight First-Round Exit in Playoffs

For the first time since the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning will not be among the final eight teams left in the quest for the Stanley Cup in consecutive seasons. That’s even though the NHL odds had Tampa Bay tied for sixth at +900 in the odds of representing the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final when the season began.

Tampa Bay had reached the Eastern Conference finals six times in a span of eight seasons and won the Stanley Cup following the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

How Tampa Bay's NHL Odds Went From Favorites to Fading?
Tampa Bay Lightning players | Rich Storry/Getty Images/AFP

After being eliminated by Toronto in six games in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lightning won just one game before falling to Florida in the opening round in this year’s playoffs.

Tampa Bay was 10th in the NHL with a 42-40 against the NHL betting line during the 2023-24 season with 41 games landing over the total.

Is this the end of the line for a Tampa Bay team accustomed to being a contender in the Eastern Conference?

Can the Lightning Retain Their Veteran Captain and Title Aspirations?

When the talk turns to be the best player in Tampa Bay Lightning history, it doesn’t take long for Steven Stamkos’ name to make an appearance. In fact, it would be hard to put anybody ahead of the longtime Lightning captain.

Stamkos joins teammate Nikita Kucherov as the only Tampa Bay player with at least 50 career playoff goals. No Lightning player has more goals in the regular season than Stamkos’ total of 555 and his 1,137 points are 184 more than any other player.

The 34-year-old Stamkos is an unrestricted free agent who carried a cap hit of $8.5 million during the 2023-24 season.

Brandon Hagel’s cap hit will jump to $6.5 million in 2024-25. Hagel, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak and Andrei Vasilevskiy will account for about 70% of the salary cap.

According to the Capfriendly.com site, only nine forwards and four defensemen are under contract for next season so there is some work to do. The Lightning are going to do what they can to keep Stamkos and he would like to finish his career in Tampa Bay.

Missing Pieces Sink Tampa Bay’s NHL Championship Odds

When Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup following the 2021-22 season, the Lightning had 10 players with at least 10 goals and 18 players with more than 10 points.

Alexander Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Corey Perry, Ross Colton, Patrick Maroon, Ryan McDonagh, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Jan Rutta have moved on. That has impacted the NHL championship odds for the Lightning.

That is a lot of production to be replaced and that has factored into the early playoff exits in each of the last two seasons. The 2023-24 season ended with a 6-1 loss to Florida in Game 5 of the first-round series.

Stamkos, NHL scoring champion Kucherov, Point, Hedman and Vasilevskiy have formed quite the nucleus in Tampa Bay, but other pieces have needed to head elsewhere due to the salary cap.

Can Tampa Bay’s Late-Round Draft Picks Electrify the Lineup?

Tampa Bay has been able to find productive players even while picking at the bottom of the first round of the NHL Draft in recent years.

One of those players to keep an eye on is Dylan Duke, a forward who had 26 goals and 23 assists to lead Michigan to the Frozen Four. He signed with the Lightning after Michigan’s season came to an end and he figures to be with Tampa Bay next season.

Six of the top 10 scorers for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch are 23 or younger. However, one of them was defenseman Jack Thompson and he was dealt to San Jose for forward Anthony Duclair.

Expect to see some new faces among the top 18 skaters for the Lightning during the 2024-25 season.

Tampa Bay has had one first-round pick in the last four NHL Drafts. It has been nearly a decade since a draft pick has made a major impact with the Lightning. At some point, the recent picks will need to make the move to the NHL.

Can Tampa Bay Survive a Loaded Field with Rising Stars Fueled by 2024 NHL Draft Odds?

Division rivals Florida, Boston and Toronto aren’t going anywhere. Neither are the New York Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit, New Jersey, Ottawa and Buffalo are loaded with young players ready to take the next step with another high pick coming in the 2024 NHL Draft odds, so the competition for the eight playoff spots in the East will only get tougher moving forward.

The Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders have some decisions to make but they could be in the thick of the playoff race once again. Sp if Tampa Bay takes even a slight step back, that could put the Lightning in the position of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.



Questions of the Day

Who are the last five first-round picks for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Isaac Howard was the 31st pick in 2022, Nolan Foote was selected 27th overall in 2019, Cal Foote went 14th overall in 2017, Brett Howden was pick No. 27 in 2016 while Anthony DeAngelo was drafted with the 19th selection in 2014. Only Howard is still part of the Tampa Bay organization.

Where did Tampa Bay finish in the 2023-24 NHL standings?

Tampa Bay was fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 45-29-8 record and earned the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

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