For several recent seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning were a great team that couldn't crest the Stanley Cup mountain. Amid the most unique playoff circumstances in memory, they emerged as the champs in 2020. Can they repeat the feat?
To do so, they'll have to overcome a long-term injury to star Nikita Kucherov, one of the NHL's dominant offensive forces. But, they did just win a Cup while playing the vast majority of the time without captain Steven Stamkos, so we're not ready to count them out. Here's everything you need to know ahead of the 2020-21 season:
Big question: How big of a loss is Nikita Kucherov?
The 27-year-old Kucherov has scored 398 points over the last four seasons, which trails only Connor McDavid for most in the league. The 2019 MVP has been a huge part of the Lightning's recent success -- including a team-high 34 points in the 2020 Stanley Cup run -- but will be sidelined the entire season after undergoing hip surgery.
The Lightning are as deep as any team in the league (as you'll see below in the "NHL Rank" section). How will they adjust the long term loss of Kucherov, and does the complexion of this team help?