Though the Tampa Bay Lightning fell well short of an NHL playoff berth, many of the players affiliated with the organization still enjoyed a successful 2011-12 season. The greatest success was felt at the AHL level, where the Norfolk Admirals marched through the Calder Cup playoffs to a championship, posting a 15-3 record in the process and dominating the opposition at seemingly every turn.
The Ontario Hockey League has been one of the premier pipelines for NHL development over the past couple of decades, particularly down the middle of the ice. From Eric Lindros to Joe Thornton, and more recently, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, and surging second-year center Tyler Seguin, the league has produced countless blue chip NHL centermen.
The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect pool emerged as the unofficial league leaders in feel-good stories this season. The AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals set a new record with an incredible 27 straight wins to finish the season and swept the award elections for the first time ever. AHL Coach of the Year Jon Cooper took a bow with AHL Defenseman of the Year Mark Barberio and AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher.