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NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

5 Factors That Make the Tampa Bay Lightning the East’s Best Team

5 Factors That Make the Tampa Bay Lightning Contenders

ben bishop
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

Through a flurry of moves this offseason, the upstart Tampa Bay Lightning have established themselves as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They are (on paper anyway) the East’s best team by a long shot and will look to their top players and front office staff to live up to the hype they have built up this summer.

5. Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman
Jeff Griffith-USA Today Sports

5. Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman
Jeff Griffith-USA Today Sports

One of the greatest players of all time has turned into one of the best general managers and constructed this team into a bona fide contender. It’s safe to say Stevie Y isn’t done making moves and will add pieces during the season to further solidify this team.

4. Valtteri Filppula

Valtteri Filppula shootout goal wins game for Tampa Bay Lightning
Anthony Gruppuso-USA Today Sports

4. Valtteri Filppula

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders
Anthony Gruppuso-USA Today Sports

Yzerman’s former teammate with the Detroit Red Wings gives the Bolts secondary scoring that complements Steven Stamkos perfectly. His amazing skill and all-around game make him to tough to play against and the Bolts tough to beat.

3. Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman Stops Puck
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

3. Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman Stops Puck
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

The awkward “potential” phase of Hedman’s career is over. He is a legitimate No. 1 defenseman and will be a Norris Trophy candidate for years to come. Having a 6-foot-7 blue liner who plays heavy minutes in all situations is without question one of this team’s biggest strengths.

2. Ben Bishop

Ben Bishop Makes Another Big Save
Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports

2. Ben Bishop

Ben Bishop Makes Another Big Save
Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports

Another giant, the former Maine Black Bear has emerged into one of the better goalies in the NHL. With his contract situation resolved this will be a distraction-free season that will see Bishop being the backbone of this team once again.

1. Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos
Robert Mayer-USA Today Sports

1. Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos
Robert Mayer-USA Today Sports

The league’s top sniper can score from anywhere and is improving as an all-around player. Such an all-world player elevates the play around him, and suffice it to say this team has been built around him to win now and win going forward. With a great supporting cast around Stamkos, this team can be unstoppable and should be considered the favorite in the Eastern Conference next season.