For a team that struggled mightily earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Lightning are receiving some pretty big honors during the 2013 offseason.
The good news kept coming Monday into Tuesday, as seven players were invited to participate in their respective countries Olympic orientation camp. That list includes Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis (Canada), Sami Salo, recently acquired free agent Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Radko Gudas, Ondrej Palat (Czech Republic) and Victor Hedman (Sweden).
All are deserving. None more than Stamkos and St. Louis, however. Both men ranked tops in NHL scoring last season, with St. Louis’ 60 points capturing him the Art Ross Trophy, while Stamkos is a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner that scored 60 goals two seasons ago (2011-12′).
On defense, Salo and Hedman put up decent numbers in terms of scoring and maintained a plus-rating. Kind of surprising given the Lightning’s well-documented difficulties along the blue-line.
Gudas and Palat, meanwhile, spent much of last season playing for Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. A forward, Palat notched 52 points and a plus-26 rating in 56 regular season games. That earned him a 14-game stint in the big leagues, where he certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, his plus-5 rating tied Salo and Tom Pyatt for the team lead. Gudas had a team-leading plus-32 rating in the minors, and was plus-3 in 22 games with the Lightning.
With rosters not expected to be set until the end of this year, now’s the time to speculate on who might make the cut. Perhaps we’ll see some new hardware at the Tampa Bay Times Forum come March 2014.