This season marks the 20th year of the franchise—one that has a long list of stars to go through the ranks. Since 1992, some of the notable Lightning include Brad Richards, Vaclav Prospal, Pavel Kubina and Roman Hamrlik.
The current roster includes stars like Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Matt Carle and Mattias Ohlund.
On the second line, right wing Teddy Purcell is quietly climbing the scoring list. Last season, Purcell notched a career-high 65 points and finished 12th in the NHL among RWs.
The 27-year-old has every attribute necessary to be the next star in the black and blue. At 6’2” and 200 pounds, Purcell has the build to add an intimidating presence to any line. Purcell isn’t just a big body. He has a substantial amount of offensive skill to add to complement his frame.
With the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL in 2007-08, Purcell recorded 83 points in 67 games. He finished third in the AHL that season, ahead of a long list of current NHL players like PA Parenteau, Matt Moulson and Troy Brouwer.
Playing alongside veteran center Lecavalier and newly-acquired Benoit Pouliot, Purcell is the best scoring threat on the line. Lecavalier had 27 assists last season. Pouliot’s physical play and aggressive net presence can allow Purcell higher-quality scoring chances.
The Lightning feel like they have a budding star in Purcell as they re-signed him this offseason to a new three-year deal, worth $4.5 million per season.
"He knows the game," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said (via TampaBay.com). "His play has elevated and it continues to get better and we think there's a lot more up potential. That's a reason we wanted to get him tied up for a few more years. We expect him to get better and we'll push him to get better."
After a slow start to his career in Los Angeles, he has found his stride in Tampa, especially last season.
"When they show that trust and faith in you, you want to show them they made the right decision," Purcell said (via TampaBayTimes.com). "It makes you that much more hungry."
Finally earning a consistent spot as a top-six forward, Purcell has found his stride. In a short stretch from February to March last season, Purcell netted at least one point in 15 of 16 games.
The next biggest step for Purcell is to establish consistency. For a portion of last season, Purcell played on the same line as Stamkos and St. Louis. That sparked the Lightning's climb through the standings.
Fortunately for him, all Purcell has to do to find consistency is look down the bench. Somewhere on the bench, or in the weight room, is one of the most consistent right-wingers in NHL history—St. Louis.
St. Louis has played in 13 NHL seasons and recorded 857 points. The 37-year-old hasn’t slowed down with age, recording 74 points or more in every season since 2006-07.
Influences like that of St. Louis will only benefit Purcell as he develops into the next Lightning superstar.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, and Purcell, the lockout is taking away from his momentum and growth. In the regular-season finale for Tampa last season, Purcell had a hat trick. He is hoping to carry that momentum over into this season—whenever it starts.
"I want to be more of a go-to guy and be more consistent," Purcell said (via TampaBay.com). "Hopefully, I'll take another big step."
With all the influences in Tampa and his skills, the NHL can expect another star to come out of this young but talented franchise. His name is Teddy Purcell.