Sure, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov get a lot of the attention, and deservedly so. But the Lightning could use breakout seasons from several young players:
Jonathan Drouin, wing: Drouin (left) proved to be a dynamic force in the playoffs last season, his 14 points third on the team. Now that Drouin's trade-request saga of last season is behind him, and his confidence is at an all-time high, the 21-year-old could be a go-to playmaker on a top line with Steven Stamkos and a difference-maker on the power play.
Nikita Nesterov, defenseman: The Lightning needs more offense, and fewer mental lapses, from the 23-year-old Russian. Nesterov, who scored two preseason power-play goals, will get an opportunity on the man advantage and on the third defense pairing. Rookie defenseman Slater Koekkoek will be breathing down his neck.
Brayden Point, forward: Point, 20, forced his way onto the roster with a stellar preseason, his blend of speed, skill and smarts beyond his years. In his first year pro, Point has to prove he can stick by providing much-needed scoring punch to the bottom six.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer