The Lightning’s historic back-to-back Stanley Cup runs were the result of years of planning, excellent scouting, shrewd business maneuvers and a little bit of luck. Here’s a look back at some of the important dates and moves that led to another Tampa Bay title:
April 7, 2008
Finishing last in the league gives the Lightning a 48.2 percent chance of winning the NHL’s draft lottery. Good luck strikes. Tampa Bay lands the first pick and uses it on a can’t-miss 18-year-old center: Steven Stamkos.
June 26, 2009
After another year near the bottom of the standings, the Lightning use their No. 2 overall pick on Victor Hedman, who blossoms into a superstar defenseman and last year’s playoff MVP.
March 3, 2010
The NHL Board of Governors approves Boston investor Jeff Vinik’s bid to buy the Lightning from co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie. Vinik turns the franchise into one of the most respected in all of sports.
Aug. 9, 2010
Needing a new coach for its AHL affiliate, the Lightning hire the top coach of the USHL: the Green Bay Gamblers’ Jon Cooper. After two and a half years, one AHL title and a 28-game winning streak, Cooper earns a promotion to replace Guy Boucher as the Lightning’s head coach.
June 24-25, 2011
This draft becomes arguably the most pivotal period for Tampa Bay’s future success. The Lightning’s first-round pick (Vladislav Namestnikov) has some success here and becomes a chip in the trade that brings in defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The second-round pick (Nikita Kucherov) turns into an MVP, and the seventh-round pick (Ondrej Palat) grows into a franchise cornerstone.
March 9, 2014
The Lightning sign an undrafted 22-year-old Canadian, Yanni Gourde, to its AHL team for the rest of the season with a two-way NHL deal for two more years after that. Gourde ends up scoring the winning goal in Game 7 against the Islanders to send Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup final.
June 28, 2014
Tampa Bay gives up a seventh-round pick to swap third-round selections with Minnesota. By moving up one spot, the Lightning can select center Brayden Point (No. 79 overall). Point explodes into a star and scores a goal in nine consecutive playoff games, one shy of tying the NHL record.
Feb. 26, 2017
The Lightning trade star goalie Ben Bishop to the Kings. The move gives even more playing time to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who becomes one of the best goalies in the league. Besides giving Vasilevskiy more room to develop, the trade gives Tampa Bay defense prospect Erik Cernak, who scores the first goal of this year’s Stanley Cup final.
June 15, 2017
The Lightning trade former No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin to Montreal for an elite 18-year-old defense prospect, Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev helps fill Tampa Bay’s void on the blue line and becomes a valuable contributor on the title runs, while Drouin (40 goals, 97 assists over four seasons) leaves the Canadiens for personal reasons in April. The trade also gives the Lightning salary-cap flexibility to help re-sign Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.
Sept. 11, 2018
After years of assembling the Lightning’s core, general manager Steve Yzerman steps down two days before the start of training camp. Tampa Bay immediately promotes 41-year-old assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who makes the final adjustments that lead to back-to-back championships.
Aug. 24, 2019
After a humiliating first-round sweep by Columbus, the Lightning decide to add experience and physicality. That leads to the signing of Pat Maroon (fresh off a Stanley Cup title with the Blues).
Feb. 16, 2020
Tampa Bay sends its last first-round pick (Nolan Foote) and a conditional first-round pick to the Devils in exchange for Blake Coleman. Coleman scores one of the most remarkable goals in team history, a diving, last-second Game 2 shot that’s the difference in a 2-1 win over Montreal.
Feb. 15, 2021
With Anthony Cirelli out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, the Lightning move Ross Colton to the taxi squad to add depth at forward. He scores a week later in his NHL debut against Carolina and goes on to score the Cup-clinching goal against Montreal.
April 10, 2021
The Lightning bolster their blue line just before the trade deadline with a three-way deal that sends longtime Blue Jacket David Savard to Tampa Bay. The team gives up three picks but gains the defenseman who assists on Colton’s goal that wins the Cup.
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