With the compliance buyout of long time captain Vincent Lecavalier this off-season, the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to send a message to everyone that the rebuild was in full swing. The Lightning went into training camp with around five to six spots up for grabs for young players, and many on the Top-20 came away with spots for the opening night roster.
The Tampa Bay Lightning failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season and Head Coach Guy Boucher was eventually relieved of his duties and replaced by Jon Cooper, the coach of the Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Goaltending and defense proved once again to be the team weakness, as they dropped to 14th in the East, and locked up the third overall pick in this June's draft.
The 2012-13 season saw many of the Tampa Bay Lightning's top prospects work their way onto the NHL roster. Radko Gudas and Alex Killorn both saw substantial time and made significant contributions with the big club while Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, Ondrej Palat, and Mark Barberio also made their NHL debuts at various points throughout the lockout shortened season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a deep and talented affiliate in their AHL squad, the Syracuse Crunch. Several players have filtered through the Crunch recently to make it on the NHL ice with the Lightning, including: Cory Conacher, Alex Killorn, and Richard Panik. Currently, their offensive talent at the professional level is deeper than their defensive talent.
It seems that, as a general manager, Steve Yzerman can do no wrong. In his first year as the Tampa Bay Lightning's GM, Yzerman made a number of shrewd moves that helped put the team into the playoffs, and while they finished outside of the playoffs this past season, Yzerman has continued to build a winning system.