How the defending stanley cup champion lightning were built

    It’s decided: The Tampa Bay Lightnings will face the Montreal Canadians in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. So how did each team get here? Let’s take a look at how each Stanley Cup finalist fared, starting with Ray, who hopes to repeat as champion.

    once we get into the nhl postseason, people start to wonder about the “lessons learned”.

    Reading: How the defending stanley cup champion lightning were built

    some of that comes down to doubts about the level of play. Will (the stingy, sometimes boring team of the moment) inspire other gms to get stuck in the game? Will rival gms assume that a team based primarily on finesse overcame the rut due to a handful of plucky players?

    [x factors for the 2021 stanley cup final]

    Really though, teams should try to learn the right lessons from how the Tampa Bay Lightning built their team. They’ve been the gold standard for team building for so long that it’s still hard to gauge how much credit Julien Brisebois deserves compared to former GM Steve Yzerman.

    maybe that irritates brisebois. but overall? yeah, that’s a good problem to have.

    let’s see how lightning was incorporated into a 2021 stanley cup finalist.

    gymnastic cap, ltir, kucherov and the elephant in the locker room

    sigh, we might as well start with what people complain about, over and over again.

    Usually people complaining about nikita kucherov persisting in ltir, and lightning bolts getting salary cap gym are on message boards or social media. But even Dougie Hamilton (sort of) complained after his Hurricanes went down to the screws.

    Whether he shrugs or gnashes his teeth at lightning salary cap circumvention/ltir use, kucherov said it well enough. they played by the rules, whether they like it or not.

    nikita kucherov asked about dougie hamilton’s comment yesterday “i didn’t do it on purpose i had hip surgery… i didn’t make the rules” about going to the gym during all rehab “i hated it it was really annoying”

    — lightning insider (@erik_erlendsson) June 11, 2021

    but moving away from that more specific feud, lightning bolts are still the gold standard for team building due to the mastery with which they’ve managed the salary cap.

    As you could tell, this isn’t his first rodeo. and have generally handled it all with the panache of someone doing a headstand on a jet ski.

    See also: Brad Aldrich&039s name removed from Stanley Cup | Sporting News

    It looked like lightning might lose one of Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point over the years. No. each time, they kept those truly crucial central players. in almost every case, the lightning bolt convinced them to sign for below market value. For a moment, it seemed that maybe giving Andrei Vasilevskiy a lot of money would backfire. Not that much; somehow it’s a bargain at $9.5 million.

    (Sign brayden point for $6.75 million for three seasons when he was already clearly a star? That’s almost insulting.)

    [nbc 2021 stanley cup playoffs center]

    Every offseason, we wonder how lightning will fare for the next salary-cap challenge. they do it easily, leaving us to say “ah, well, though…” while other teams make big mistakes.

    look at it one last time. The Lightning appeared to be vulnerable to a bid sheet for Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, or even Erik Cernak. Instead, Sergachev and Cirelli have bargain-cap hits of $4.8 million, and Cernak costs about half that.

    Does it help to play in a tax-exempt state like Florida? of course. and there are so many nhl markets where you can jet ski your friends to celebrate the return of covid.

    For other teams, even those with some or all of the lightning perks, cap management can be a nightmare. meanwhile, the lightning bolt makes managing the salary cap look easy.

    How the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning were built Kucherov Sergachev Cooper

    (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Deft drafting, scouting, and development

    again, it’s usually easier to get a good deal on a top-tier player if he’s already in your organization.

    when you look at the lightning core, you’ll see a 2021 stanley cup finalist built largely through astute wording.

    • There are the top picks: Steven Stamkos (No. 1 in 2008), Victor Hedman (No. 2 in 2009), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (No. 19 in 2012, when teams were more reluctant to choose goalkeepers in the draft). in the first round).
    • Of course, steals are fun. Nikita Kucherov slipped to the second round (58 in 2011). Brayden Point ranks as an exhibitor in the ability to value lightning and defy the tendency to obsess over size (79 in 2014). anthony cirelli and alex killorn were also third-round picks.
    • sometimes good scouting also means discovering quality undrafted players. Tyler Johnson isn’t the key player he once was for the Bolts, but he is a leading example of the team finding diamonds in the rough. Yanni Gourde is essentially the next Tyler Johnson.

    Granted, there also appears to be a secret ingredient to the development of Tampa Bay. The lightning keeps pumping out players like these, and even the gems that leave become key players on other teams (Jonathan Marchessault, Carter Verhaeghe).

    luck, but also skill

    When it comes to some of those heists, you can make a few comments about luck. It’s the logic of deflating the patriots by stealing tom brady, the red wings by digging up pavel datsyuk, the rangers by recruiting henrik lundqvist, and so on. “If they knew that player was so good, why did they reject him?”

    That’s a decent point. however, Lightning also deserves credit for adopting a smart organizational philosophy. time and time again, the lightning signed and drafted smaller, more skilled players than other teams bought into. they have benefited a lot.

    (Think of it as a “money ball” approach, in the broadest sense. Identify “market inefficiencies” and exploit them with, well, ruthless efficiency.)

    Even if you still chalk it up to sheer luck, I’m sure the lightning bolts really enjoyed it, huh?

    defense reinforced by exchanges

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    again, the lightning built their foundations through a good draft and keeping the most important players through salary cap management. Beyond Victor Hedman, though, they’ve built much of their defense through trading.

    • Not all lightning picks have worked, including high picks. In one case, they made Jonathan Drouin (No. 3 in 2013) Sergachev. Yeah, they edged out rival GM Stanley Cup finalist Marc Bergevin on that one.
    • Ryan Mcdonagh’s trade package looked big, but it was extremely one-sided for the Lightning Over Rangers. not getting erik karlsson also seems lucky.
    • remember when it looked like lightning had peanuts to trade ben bishop? oops, erik cernak is really good.
    • part of ltir/salary cap/kucherov angst is because lightning was able to trade for david savard.

    “harder to play against”

    when lightning switched to savard, they continued the recent deadline theme of becoming “harder to deal with”.

    As you probably remember, the lightning paid significant prices to land supporting forwards blake coleman and barclay goodrow during the 2020 nhl trade deadline. sometimes people exaggerated the impact of goodrow and coleman, giving them too much credit compared to the outstanding work of the usual suspects hedman, kucherov, point, and vasilevskiy.

    But those two upgraded lightning, allowing them to become a ruthless fighting machine.

    such moves helped lightning become what they are entering the 2021 stanley cup final: a versatile giant. if the Canadians screw up the job with their defense, the bolts are unlikely to flinch under the pressure of low-scoring games. just consider game 7 against the islands.

    it all adds up to a perennial competitor

    Yes, the Lightnings suffered setbacks, most famously seeing their historic regular season derailed by a sweep of Blue Jackets. but they’ve been contenders for years because they’re smart and skilled.

    despite never having won a jack adams award, jon cooper is the longest tenured head coach in the nhl and easily one of the best. By keeping Cooper, Lightning shows one more strength: don’t panic when things go wrong.

    So, by breaking down how lightning bolts were built, teams can choose which lessons they want to learn. they’ve been smart about trading quality talent, cap management, selection and development, and knowing when and when to pull players off.

    meaning that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nearly impossible to fully replicate what lightning accomplished in building this contender. they’re just better at it than anyone else.

    canadiens vs. lightning – series live stream link

    game 1: Mon. June 28: Canadians at Lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbcsn / peacock) game 2: Wed. June 30: Canadians at Lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbcsn / peacock) game 3: fri. July 2: Canadiens lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbc / peacock) game 4: mon. July 5: Canadiens lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbc / peacock) *game 5: Wed. July 7: canadiens at lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbc / peacock) *game 6: fri. July 9: Canadiens lightning, 8 p.m. et (nbc / peacock) *set 7: sun. July 11: Canadians at Lightning, 7 p.m. et (nbc / peacock)

    *if necessary

    james o’brien is a writer for professional hockey talk on sports for nbc. write him at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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