Ranking the 5 Best American Players in Tampa Bay Lightning History
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
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.
His 626 NHL games help boost his spot in the top five.
4. Brian Holzinger
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
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
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
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.