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Tampa Bay Getting Set For Season 5 Written by Laci Bloomers - November 30th, -0001

With the summer of 2008 half over, the Tampa Bay Lightning look to be fairly close to what their opening day roster could look like.

While there is no doubt that the Bolts' management will look at available players as they come on the market, the club appears to like where they are at this point in the offseason.

The Lightning GM has made no less than 16 trades since the playoffs ended and trading re-opened.  Eight players were either bought out or were not resigned, including a pair who retired.

In fact, only 9 players who were on the roster when the playoffs ended are still in the organization!  Mike Modano was resigned as a UFA.  Josef Stumpel, Paul Gaustad, Geoff Sanderson, Richard Zednik, Sean Avery, Fredrik Sjostrom, Denis Gauthier and Tim Thomas still remain.

Let's meet your Lightning.  If the season started today, the starting line-up for the Lightning might look something like this (last years stats in brackets):

LW Richard Zednik - Zednik has at least 27 goals in each of the past 4 seasons, scoring 114 in that time.
C Radek Bonk - Bonk scored career highs with 31 goals and 81 points last season in Colorado.
RW Jonathan Cheechoo - "Cheech" is looking to set career highs with 30 goals and 80 points this season.
D Wade Redden - This leader of the defensive group is close to 300 hits every season.
D Mike Commodore - Commodoe hit career highs with 8 goals and 25 points last season in Nashville.

LW Geoff Sanderson - His blazing speed led to 22 goals and a career best 68 points last season.
C Mike Modano - His production dropped significantly last season, but he should top 70 points this year.
RW Jere Lehtinen - Dependable two way player will look to challenge his career best 34 goals and 66 points.
D Philippe Boucher - Boucher had 39 points ans a +39 ;ast season in Columbus.
D Denis Gauthier - Gauthier shone after coming to T-Bay last year, finishing with 10 goals.

LW Sean Avery - Avery looks ready to play a regular role after 2 years in the minors.  Looked good in a late season call up.
C Jozef Stumpel - Stumpel had career bests with 22 goals and 58 points last season, but will be relegated to 3rd line this coming season.
RW Freddie Sjostrom - Sjostrom had 11 goals and 23 points in his first full season last year.  Will play a bigger role this year.
D Mike Rathje - Steady defender was traded by the Bolts at the deadline lastseason, then reacquired this summer.
D Paul Ranger - Appears to have theupper edge for that #6 spot.  Plenty of tools and will have the chance to showcase them.

LW Jay Pandolfo - Another guy shipped at the deadline and reacquired this summer.  Standout defensively.
C Andrew Murray - Rookie might have a shot to subplant Paul Gaustad in the lineup.
RW Zach Stortini - Another rookie who plays tough and will keep opponents honest.

Tim Thomas - Thomas looks primed for a break out season, and the club is expecting great things from their starter.
Robert Esche - Pretty good insurance as Esche has 14 career shutouts and has never had a losing season in the CMHL.


LW Chris Chucko - 22 year old rookie played 4 games last season with Toronto.  Getting close.
LW Simon Gamache - The 25 year old has 23 points in 45 CMHL games.
C Paul Gaustad - "The Goose" looked decent after arriving last season, even seeing 2nd line work.  Could be in tough this year and will have to earn a roster spot with the added depth.
RW Scott Nichol - Solid defensive player should be the first call up.  Was a regular in Ottawa last season.
RW Barry Tallackson - Had 3 points in a 4 game taste with Dallas last season.
D Sheldon Brookbank - 28 year old rookie is ready, and could push Ranger out of the #6 spot.
D Rob Scuderi - Scuderi played 16 games for the Bolts last season, but depth and his salary could cost him this year.
G John Grahame - Can help a team and will likely be dealt.  Had a 2.53 GAA in 19 games with Calgary last season.

The management is confident they have the mix to play a tough defensive game, with the ability to score enough goals to win.  The goal is to set club records in wins and points this season, and advance past the 2nd round of the playoffs.  A Division Title is not out of reach.


- Laci Bloomers reporting -



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