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How did the Lightning stack up on NHL Tonight’s all-decade team?

Tampa Bay lands two players on the second team but there could have been Lightning players on the team of the future.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov made NHL Tonight's all-decade second team, but not the team of the future. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov made NHL Tonight's all-decade second team, but not the team of the future. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published Aug. 14, 2019

Bests, whether of all-time, right now or the decade, always make for fun debates.

NHL Tonight had analyst Mike Johnson name his all-decade first and second teams — plus, just to make things interesting — his first team for the next 10 years. The Lightning made a couple of appearances, but perhaps not where expected.

No one from Tampa Bay cracked the first team and it’s hard to argue there.

All-decade first team

• LW: Alex Ovechkin, Washington

• C: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

• RW: Patrick Kane, Chicago

• LD: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa/San Jose

• RD: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles

• G: Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers

Ovechkin and Crosby are the top players at left wing and center in the past decade without question. There could be some debate on the rest of the team. For the most part, putting anyone from the Lightning on that list would be a stretch.

One argument could be made for Victor Hedman, but he’s had a better past five years to Karlsson’s decade. The Swedes entered the league at the same time, but Karlsson took off faster, as evidenced by his Norris Trophies in 2012 and 2015.

Two Lightning players did make the second team, though. Tampa Bay is one of two teams to make the total list twice.

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All-decade second team

• LW: Brad Marchand, Boston

• C: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh

• RW: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay

• LD: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay

• RD: Brent Burns, San Jose

• G: Carey Price, Montreal

Johnson acknowledged some recency bias with Hedman and called him one of the best defensemen in the NHL of the last five or six years. He considered putting Chicago’s Duncan Keith here instead.

There’s an argument to be made there. Where Hedman has been one of the best for the past five or six years, Keith was for the first half of the decade.

Kucherov’s selection also carries some recency bias. He has been the league’s best right wing for the past three seasons. Kane definitely has him beat on the decade. Phil Kessel may as well.

Kucherov’s age counts against him in this comparison. He only played half of the decade in question, but this is an all-decade team. Do you take the better play for fewer years or the lower level (but still elite) sustained over the whole decade?

Johnson went for overall level of talent in this case. Kucherov ranks sixth with 462 points since Jan. 1, 2010, but he’s done so with 215 fewer games than anyone ahead of him.

The surprising part of these lists comes in Johnson’s predictions for the next decade.

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2020-29 all-decade team

• LW: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton

• C: Connor McDavid, Edmonton

• RW: Mikko Rantanen, Colorado

• LD: Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo

• RD: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas

• G: John Gibson, Anaheim

There’s no argument with Draisaitl and McDavid, especially because they’ll be linemates for the foreseeable future. Dahlin and Heiskanen are two of the most exciting young defensemen.

But would you take Rantanen’s next 10 years over Kucherov’s?

Rantanen has incredible potential and his big body makes him all the more exciting. But he fits the big body stereotype of less-than-elite skating. That could hinder him going forward.

Kucherov may not have a full decade at his current level but the Lightning bet on him playing near it for the next eight years as his extension kicks in this season.

Perhaps this raises a similar question to Kucherov vs. Kessel above, but Kucherov is likely to be the top right wing for more of the next decade than he was the past 10 seasons.

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And now for goalie. Andrei Vasilevskiy just won the Vezina Trophy in his second year as a full-time starter. That’s a high level for someone settling into the increased role.

Similar to Kucherov, the Lightning are likewise betting on Vasilevskiy for the next nine years (his eight-year extension has another season before kicking in). So is Anaheim on Gibson, though. Both goalies start eight-year contracts at 26.

Because he plays for a worse (less-exciting) team, Gibson doesn’t get much attention. Vasilevskiy is a more dynamic goalie his style comes with the eye-catching flashy saves and his team wins more.

Looking at the past two years combined, they have rather similar stats (save percentage and goals-against average within .04 of each other).

This one doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. It will be fun to see it play out on the ice over the next 10 years.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark on Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  3. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  5. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  8. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  9. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
    The Kings are the latest team to bring their annual trip to Tampa. The Capitals and Senators have also done so this year.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.