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Tampa Bay Lightning: 3 Beneath-the-Radar Free Agent Ahead Targets – The Hockey Writers – Tampa Bay Lightning

With core items shifting out and in, Lightning basic supervisor Julien BriseBois has had a busy offseason to this point. Regardless of the troublesome selections, the Tampa Bay Lightning are objectively a greater hockey staff heading into the 2024-25 season. With additions of Jake Guentzel, Cam Atkinson, and Zemgus Girgensons, the Lightning improved their five-on-five scoring and ahead depth tremendously. Nonetheless, the Lightning may use one or two extra forwards to bolster their beginning lineup. A number of engaging choices stay in free company.

Dominik Kubalik

When Dominik Kubalik scored 30 objectives in his rookie season with Jonathan Toews as his middle, the Chicago Blackhawks thought they discovered a deadly top-six ahead. But, the winger was off the roster two seasons later, failing to eclipse even the 20-goal plateau. Immediately, Kubalik rejuvenated his profession with the Detroit Crimson Wings, scoring 20 objectives and 45 factors in 81 video games in 2023. This manufacturing made him a key piece within the Alex Debrincat cope with Detroit. After he arrived in Ottawa, Kubalik had the worst season of his NHL profession, scoring simply 11 objectives and 15 factors in 74 video games.

Associated: Lightning’s 2024-25 Season Schedule: 10 Video games to Circle

Regardless of coming off a down season, the Lightning could discover worth in a participant like Kubalik. The 28-year-old can fill an interim function on the second-line wing. In any case, the Lightning desperately want an improve at proper wing following the departure of Anthony Duclair. Corey Sznajder from AllThreeZones ranks Kubalik as a stable passer, however one-timers are his power. The winger ranked within the 84th percentile of middle lane passes per 60 amongst forwards in 2022-23 with the Crimson Wings. Moreover, Kubalik ranked within the 99th percentile of one-timers and the 94th percentile of one-timer assists per hour that season.

As a staff, the Lightning ranked within the 94th percentile of one-timers, and their middle lane passing may use enchancment subsequent season. Kubalik helps handle the staff’s weaknesses whereas the staff enhances his finest attributes. AFP Analytics initiatives Kubalik to earn solely $1 million on his subsequent deal for a single season. Briefly, the Lightning entrance workplace ought to be throughout this signing, and Kubalik makes essentially the most sense for the group.

Alex Nylander

Earlier than a quick stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Alex Nylander averaged 12 minutes of ice time per sport in his restricted NHL expertise. Then, the 26-year-old was given a chance in Columbus and shined with an elevated function. Averaging 17 minutes an evening with the Blue Jackets, Nylander potted 11 objectives and 4 assists for 15 factors in 23 video games. Earlier than his breakout run, Nylander appeared in simply 14 common season video games during the last three NHL seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Alex Nylander, Columbus Blue Jackets (Picture by Ben Jackson/NHLI through Getty Pictures)

After watching the 2016 Eighth-overall choice succeed as a late bloomer, everybody continued to root for him. Sadly, the Blue Jackets didn’t prolong him a proposal and he stays an unrestricted free agent. Whereas his 17.74 capturing proportion just isn’t sustainable, the Lightning may add a talented offensive sniper to the middle-six to bolster the secondary scoring. Maybe beneath head coach Jon Cooper, Nylander can mature and develop a correct two-way sport. Plus, the worth tag wouldn’t be hefty. AFPanalytics initiatives the winger to earn a one-year deal price roughly $1.3 million.

Kailer Yamamoto

Kailer Yamamoto is barely completely different from Kubalik and Nylander. He isn’t a degree producer however prefers to play a quick sport in transition and on the forecheck whereas remaining accountable defensively. Following an underwhelming last season with the Edmonton Oilers, Yamamoto signed with the Seattle Kraken in an try to duplicate his 20-goal, 41-point season from simply two seasons in the past. Nonetheless, Yamamoto discovered himself in a depth function with Seattle, solely scoring eight objectives and 16 factors in 59 video games. Now on the free agent market, the 2017 first-round draft decide presents stable middle-six upside.

Now-former Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol didn’t deploy Yamamoto correctly final season. The winger performs a whole defensive sport however ranked final amongst Seattle forwards in defensive zone begin proportion. Furthermore, his time on ice per sport dropped 5 minutes in comparison with the earlier three seasons in Edmonton. In the meantime, Yamamoto grades as one of many league’s best gamers on the forecheck (through AllThreeZones) and likes distributing the puck on zone entries. AFPanalytics predicts the 25-year-old at $2 million for 2 years for his subsequent deal.

Lightning in Determined Want of Prime-Six Winger

Intriguing short-term choices stay in free company, however none of those three gamers ought to be the long-term resolution for the Lightning in a top-six function. Inconsistency is a priority among the many three targets listed above. Nonetheless, at a cheap value, they’re nice short-term, middle-six choices so as to add a punch of youth to an growing old Tampa Bay roster. Be looking out for a possible commerce by BriseBois; Frank Vatrano of the Anaheim Geese stays a rumored goal.

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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