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Lightning 1 step closer in quick rebuild

Three seasons ago the lightning decided to sell the majority of their youth to try and take a run at the cup but fell short, hell fell so short they didn't even make the playoffs. G.M. Paul Lamarche received a lot of criticism that season in regards to having a team with no real high end prospects, no solid young players and a bunch of vets with expiring contracts.  Since then... Since then the Lightning went on to make the playoffs the very next season and took it to a game 7 against the soon to be cup champion florida panthers in 2008. The following season the Lightning held on to a playoff spot for the majority of the sason only to finish in 9th place on the last day of the regular season.

The beauty of the relative success of the lightning over the past 2 seasons is how G.M. Paul Lamarche has manage to transform this lightning squad from a bunch or 34 and 35 year olds with expiring contracts to a solid core of players aged between 22 and 30 years old. Aside from trades, this roster should be intact for at least the next 4 years.

The offensive core includes the following players with their age and contract lengths:

Andrei Kostitsyn: 24, 3 year contract, RFA after
Tuomo Ruutu: 26, about to sign a 3 year contract, RFA after
Tomas Fleischman: 25, 1 year contract, RFA after
Jonathan Cheechoo: 29, 4 year contract (cheap) UFA after, could be protected if he returns to form!
Jarret Stoll: 27, 1 year contract, RFA after
David Legwand: 29, 0 year contract, will sign him for 4 years
Dainus Zubrus: 31, 3 year contract, RFA after
Sergei Kostitsyn: 23, 0 year contract, 7 years before ufa
Tyler Kennedy: 23, 1 year contract, 7 years before ufa
Sergei Samsonov: 31, 2 year contract, UFA at end of contract

Aside from samsonov, those are 10 out of 12 forwards that i have signed for at least 3 years. Yes I do not have any High end prospects still but these guys should hold me over until i start drafting them in the upcoming drafts

On Defense I have:

Kurtis Foster: 28, 0 year contract, unsure if i want to sign him to a 1 year deal now or just sign him to a 4 year deal right away

Carlo Colaiacovo: 26, 3 year deal, RFA at end of contract
Brad Stuart: 30, 3 year contract UFA at end of contract
Alex Picard: 24, 1 year contract, 6 years until UFA
Mike commodore: 30, about to sign a 4 year deal
Anton Babchuk: 25, 0 year deal, 5 years until UFA
Ryan O'byrne: 25, 3 year deal, RFA at end of contract

That's a pretty solid core of 7 guys. I expect a lot of improvement in the upcoming nhl season for at least 5 of 7 of those guys

In nets:

Jonas Hiller: 27, 2 year deal, RFA at end of deal
Brent Johnson: 30, 2 year deal, UFA at end of deal

potential nhl goalies: Riku Helenius, Marek Schwarz, Matt Keetley and Jase Weslosky, all 23 and younger

The real asset in net is Jonas Hiller, we expect him to be an 80 OV plus goalie for many years to come in a lightning uniform

Obviously some guys still need to develop but Lightning G.M. Paul Lamarche really believes in the guys he has picked up over the last two seasons. He had this to say for the future: "I feel that we have a real good shot at a playoff spot this season with this core of guys, the season to really watch out will be the 2010-2011 campain where I feel the lightning will be a real contender in the east!"