Dave Andreychuk has earned the respect of the Lightning community, but is he the best Lightning player to ever play his position?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had some impressive names wear the blue and white (and black) since the team joined the NHL in 1992-93. A strong fanbase has been able to watch some current and future Hall of Famers make their mark on the game in Tampa Bay, but the all-time Lightning greats have a class of their own.
The Lightning have been through just about everything in their somewhat brief history. From winning the Stanley Cup in 2003-04 to a few unsuccessful seasons, the Bolts know the highs and lows of the game. But there have been a few players that have left a long-lasting impression on the Lightning community.
The Bolts have no shortage of current and former legends, but who makes up the all-time best at each position? Based on production, team success and tenure with the franchise, here is each of the Lightning’s all-time greats at each position.
Nikolai Khabibulin may not have been with the Lightning for long, but he is the all-time best to have ever suited up between the pipes.
If this name sounds familiar to new Lightning fans, that’s because he suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks at the Tampa Times Forum on Oct. 24. The Bolts walked away with a win and a smile, but Lightning fans should have tipped their caps to Nikolai Khabibulin.
The “Bulin Wall” holds just about every team goaltending record imaginable. Though he was only with the Lightning for a little over three years, he certainly left his mark on the franchise.
Khabibulin was the goaltender in net for the Lightning’s 2003-04 Stanley Cup championship. He had five shutouts in that playoff run. According to Goaliesarchive.com, he holds a significant list of accomplishments in the blue paint for Tampa Bay. They include:
- Career wins
- Career shutouts
- Career lowest goals-against average
- Career most playoff wins
- Career most shutouts
- Career highest save percentage
- And the list goes on
There has been no better goaltender in Lightning history than Nikolai Khabibulin.
Roman Hamrlik was the first ever member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His career wasn't too shabby, either.
Pavel Kubina and Roman Hamrlik
Patrolling the blue line for the Lightning’s all-time team are Pavel Kubina and Roman Hamrlik. While neither D-man has eye-popping statistics, they had some great success in a Lightning uniform, produced well enough to earn respect in the league and were strong in the defensive end.
Kubina finished his career with 386 points in 970 games. He logged 662 games in a Lightning uniform and put up an solid 243 points in that span. Kubina’s greatest asset was his physicality.
He wasn’t afraid to get in the mix or give an oncoming forward the body entering the zone. He racked up 784 of his 1,123 career penalty minutes with the Lightning.
The longtime NHL defenseman put up one of his most consistent performances during the 2003-04 Stanley Cup campaign. He finished the regular season with a plus-nine rating and 35 points.
It seemed like so long ago that Roman Hamrlik was announced as the first overall selection in the 1992 NHL entry draft. The Bolts picked him up and kept him for six strong seasons.
Hamrlik, who recently retired after a 20-season career, has 638 points in 1,395 games and 1,408 penalty minutes. The native of Czechoslovakia was the first player the Tampa Bay fans could get excited about, and he hasn’t disappointed anyone in the NHL over the last two decades.
He played in 377 games for the Bolts with 185 points from 1992-1998. Hamrlik will always have a spot on the Lightning’s blue line.
Vinny Prospal has had a long and successful NHL career with some of his best years coming in the blue and white.
Vaclav “Vinny” Prospal
Vinny Prospal represents the left side of the top line in Lightning history. Prospal, still currently an unrestricted free agent, was the best left wing to wear the blue and white.
Another player with nearly 20 years of NHL experience, Prospal played for the Bolts in 2001 and 2002, then again from 2005-08. His agent should be scrutinized for him leaving Tampa Bay during the 2003-04 Stanley Cup run, as he was playing with Anaheim at the time.
With 765 career points, Prospal also has a nearly 52 percent career faceoff percentage, which is impressive for a winger. He played in 468 games and recorded 371 points for the Lightning.
Prospal beat out other Lightning left wingers like Fredrik Modin, Rob Zamuner and Alexander Selivanov for the top spot.
Vincent Lecavalier is the only player to ever play in 1,000 games for the Lightning. If he did only that, it would be enough but he did so much more.
Despite a recent breakup with the Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier is far and away the best center to ever play for the Bolts. Lecavalier was the face of the Lightning franchise for the better part of 14 seasons.
He was captain. He was a Stanley Cup champion. He was a 100-point scorer. He was everything the Tampa Bay faithful could have asked for—and possibly more.
Lecavalier is the only player in Lightning history to play in over 1,000 games with the franchise. He ended his tenure in Tampa having suited up in 1,037 games.
In that span, he recorded 874 points—second to only Martin St. Louis. Lecavalier was the team’s first overall selection in the 1998 draft and won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2006-07.
Even with stiff competition like Dave Andreychuk, Brad Richards and Steven Stamkos, Lecavalier holds a spot on the Lightning’s all-time list.
There is no other way to describe him. Martin St. Louis is the Lightning franchise summed up into one player.
Martin St. Louis
It should be no surprise that Martin St. Louis has a spot to himself on the Lightning’s all-time greats list. He is the best right winger to ever play for the Lightning and arguably one of the greatest to ever play the game.
His 892 points as a Bolt are the most in franchise history. He is nearing the 1,000-game mark for Tampa Bay and is currently at 991 games (he played two seasons in Calgary to start his career).
St. Louis is the embodiment of hard work and skill. As the newly named captain of the Lightning, he's led the team to an 8-4 start and a spot near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. But the “C” doesn’t say enough about his leadership abilities.
He has a 100-point season under his belt and was the MVP on the Lightning’s 2003-04 Stanley Cup season. He has played in six All-Star games and will be a Lightning All-Star for a significant amount of time.