It was a tough season in Tampa this year as the lightning finished with a 28-44-10 record which placed them third last in the entire NEFHL. After multiple seasons of finish in ninth or tenth place in the east constantly trying to make the playoffs while jeopordizing the youth of the franchise, the team finally realized that their strategy wasn't working. That's why, during the offseason and throughout the regular season the team made trades to bring in youth and build a strong young core instead of trading away some picks in youth for vets with the goal of sneaking into the playoffs.
This change of strategy started in the offseason with the trade of franchise goaltender Jonas Hiller and Travis Zajac for Jason Pominville, Michael DelZotto, Michal Neuvirth and Mikkel Boedker. Our thought process with this deal was we lose two good middle aged assets but gain 3 good young assets who some would argue have the potential the to be great and a good player in Jason Pominvillle who we later traded for Zach Bogosian and a 1st round pick in 2013. These two trades demonstrated clearly that Tampa was going for the rebuild and even though it was a long tough season, it was expected that they would be near the bottom of the standings at seasons end. Close to the trade deadline with the team doing as badly as anticipated was definite sellers as planned trading away veterans like Vinny Lecavelier Thomas Fleischman and Carlo Colaiacovo while getting a few high draft picks and some pretty good prospects such as Zach Kassian.
All in all, it's hard to call a season where you finished 3rd last a success but from a franchise standpoint we feel like we accomplished what we set out to do. We are guarentied a top 4 pick in this years draft along with number 16 overall and have a nice core of young players that we can start building around in the future. It's never fun to lose but where we are it was the only way to get out of our rut! Coming up next, a good look into the future stars of the Lightning!