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The Future in Tampa Bay Written by Laci Bloomers - November 14th, 2008

A year ago the Tampa Bay Lightning were a team all about the now.  Much like the culture in this area of Florida, it was one day at a time.

What a difference a few months makes.

While the Lightning are still able to ice a very competitve, albeit under-acheiving, line-up for thei fans this season, the future in this part of the world is something to get excited about.

 

Over the next couple of seasons, the Lightning have accumulated a lot of young talent that will start working it's way into the like-up for the Bolts. 

Trades have brought promise of an exciting young hockey club that will be a force in the future, while still competing at a high level now.

So what can Tampa Bay fans expect to see in the next couple of years?  How about this for a taste of the future's potential top couple of lines ...

 

Alexander RadulovShaun MatthiasBRad Marchand

LW - Alex Radulov   C - Shaun Matthias   RW - Brad Marchand

Paul RangerKarl Alzner

D - Paul Ranger      D - Karl Alzner

Steve Mason

G - Steve Mason

 

 

Dustin BoydRiley HolzapfelSteve Downie

LW - Dusitn Boyd   C - Riley Holzapfel   RW - Steve Downie

Mike WeberMark Giordano

D - Mike Weber      D - Mark Giordano

Matt Keetley

G - Matt Keetley

 

So, why the fuss?  Let's have a look at the lot and see if they are worth the noise.  Radulov led the CHL in scoring and was the CHL Player of the Year on 2005-06.  Matthias won a Gold Medal and was a leader for the 2008 Canadian World Jr. Champs.  Marchand was on the Canadian Junior team that wont he Super Series in 2007, then won gold in the World Juniors that year.  Ranger is already an NHL Top 4 blueliner at 24.  Alzner ws on that Super Series team, but also won World Junior Gold in both 2007 and 2008.  In 2007 he was one of 2 undrafted players on the team, and in 2008 was the captain of the team.  Mason.  Well, anybody what a hockey pulse knows what he has done the past week or so, but he also led team Canada to the Gold in the 2008 World Jrs., being named Tournament MVP.

The second group starts with Dustin Boyd, who became a regular NHL winger last season, and led all Flames' players in preseason scoring.  Holzapfel broke out in '07, finishing 4th in the WHL in goals before winning Gold in the World Juniors.  Downie, a 1st round NHL pick, won World Junior Gold in both 2006 and 2007,  being named a Tourney All-Star in 2006.  Mike Weber broke into the NHL last season, and is fighting to lock up a full time spot in Buffalo.  Weber was a team mate of Downies in Junior.  Mark Giordano, the senior statesman at 25, is an NHL regular with a fantastic offensive upside.  Keetley completed his WHL career with an amazing 105-30-10 record and a GAA under 2.00, coming up just short in the 2007 Memorial Cup Final.

Honourable mentions would go to C Paul Gaustad, wingers Eric Nystrom and Michael Blunden, D-men Casey Borer and Adam Pardy and netminder David LeNeveu.  Long shots to be impact players, all are solid 3rd line guys with potential enough to crack the Top 6 as they develop.

With the team not sitting still, the farm will continue to improve.  As it stands now, at least there is a future in Tampa Bay.

 

- Laci Bloomers reporting -

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