Ranking the 5 Best American Players in Tampa Bay Lightning History

Eric SteitzAnalyst IIIFebruary 12, 2014

Ranking the 5 Best American Players in Tampa Bay Lightning History

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    It's too early in his career for Ben Bishop to make his mark on American hockey, but the Lightning have had a few solid players from the States.
    It's too early in his career for Ben Bishop to make his mark on American hockey, but the Lightning have had a few solid players from the States.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The 2014 Sochi Olympics has a strong showing of Tampa Bay Lightning players but none of them are from the United States. As a non-conventional hockey market, the Bolts have relied heavily on international talent for success in the history of the franchise. 

    Things are changing slightly with the current roster, including Americans Tyler Johnson, Ben Bishop and Ryan Malone. Still, some of the biggest names in Lightning history hail from outside U.S. borders like Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Dave Andreychuk and Roman Hamrlik.

    There are still some big American names in Lightning history. Here are the five best American players in the team's history.

5. Ryan Malone

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    Current Lightning forward Ryan Malone starts the list.
    Current Lightning forward Ryan Malone starts the list.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Despite his lack of production in recent years, Ryan Malone is still one of the more production players in Lightning history. He has been in Tampa Bay since the 2008-09 season after leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Malone is one of the top 15 highest scorers for the franchise. He has 198 points in his Lightning tenure—over half of his career totals.

    His 626 NHL games help boost his spot in the top five. 

4. Brian Holzinger

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    Brian Holzinger fought and clawed his way into the Lightning's best American-born players.
    Brian Holzinger fought and clawed his way into the Lightning's best American-born players.STEVE NESIUS/Associated Press

    Brian Holzinger spent less than four seasons with the Lightning during his four-team NHL career. He spent the majority of his time with the Buffalo Sabres after being drafted in 1991.

    A recipient of the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award, Holzinger had 238 points in the professional ranks while logging 547 games. His time in Tampa Bay included 46 points in just over 100 games.

3. Matt Carle

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    Matt Carle hails from Alaska and has made a solid name for himself in the NHL.
    Matt Carle hails from Alaska and has made a solid name for himself in the NHL.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Matt Carle is new to the league and to the Lightning compared to the rest of notable names, but he is quickly climbing the charts of the best Americans to play for Tampa Bay. The talented defenseman is making his second appearance with the Bolts in his nearly 10-year career.

    The Anchorage native has 249 points in 577 career games. He has 49 points in a Tampa Bay uniform. He is an impressive plus-72 player with a plus-18 career rating for the Lightning.

    Under contract through the 2017-18 season, Carle should continue to climb the list of the best Americans to play for the Bolts.

2. Paul Mara

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    Paul Mara anchored the Lightning blue line for a couple seasons as part of his solid hockey career.
    Paul Mara anchored the Lightning blue line for a couple seasons as part of his solid hockey career.GRANT HALVERSON/Associated Press

    Paul Mara was a first-round selection (seventh overall) by the Lightning in the 1997 NHL draft. He was the top-rated American defenseman in that draft class. His young career started with the Lightning for a couple of seasons before being sent to Phoenix to continue his dozen years in the NHL.

    At 6’4”, Mara was a solid defenseman. He had 253 points in 734 NHL games and appeared in 33 Stanley Cup playoff games.

    Internationally, Mara played in three World Junior Championships and the 2004 World Championships for Team USA. The Lightning haven’t had many standout American players in their history, but Mara’s career puts him near the top.

1. Jeff Halpern

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    Jeff Halpern takes the top spot on the list thanks to his long, steady career in the game.
    Jeff Halpern takes the top spot on the list thanks to his long, steady career in the game.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Jeff Halpern nearly reached the 1,000-game mark in the NHL. He spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Lightning in part of his near 13-year NHL career that stands at 369 points.

    Halpern played in 126 games for the Bolts with 51 points. He was named to six United States World Championship teams and won a bronze medal in 2004. He was captain of the 2008 squad—a further testament to his place in American Hockey history.

    He was traded from the Bolts to Los Angeles in 2010 in exchange for current Lightning player Teddy Purcell. Halpern has had a decorated career for an American-born player in both the NHL and internationally.