Who's in: Todd Fedoruk, Kurtis Foster, David Hale, Victor Hedman, Drew Miller, Antero Niittymaki, Mattias Ohlund, Alex Tanguay, Stephane Veilleux, Matt Walker
Who's out: Evgeny Artyukhin, David Koci, Marek Malik, Josef Melichar, Cory Murphy, Matt Pettinger, Vinny Prospal, Radim Vrbata
Outlook: There's really no way around it: The Lightning's roster is in a bit of upheaval yet again this season.
Unlike last season, when the kooky brass acquired a boatload of forwards via free agency and didn't have room to play them all, this year's edition of the Bolts has too many NHL defencemen, as GM Brian Lawton added no fewer than five more bodies on the back end in the summer. Of the newcomers, Mattias Ohlund and 2009 second overall pick Victor Hedman are obviously welcome additions, but finding playing time for the rest of the gang could prove difficult.
Another solid addition is Antero Niittymaki in the backup role, and he could surprise by picking up quite a few starts should Mike Smith not be up to full speed.
Where there may be issues is up front, as there's a real drop off in depth after the top five forwards and injuries could expose that weakness. Bringing in Alex Tanguay on a bargain basement deal may be the only thing saving Tampa Bay from being one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, and his health and readiness will be a big factor in coach Rick Tocchet being able to ice two effective lines.
And you still look at this roster and wonder who will play the dirty minutes, at even strength and on the penalty kill.
I know this goes against the grain a little bit, but it's really not out of the question that the Lightning are picking in the top five for the third consecutive year come June. How ready Steve Stamkos and Victor Hedman are to be impact players will be the difference between another year as an also ran and joining the pack as a playoff contending bubble team.
X-factor: Victor Hedman
Where will the Bolts finish in the Eastern Conference this season?
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