4 Big Questions for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020-21

The Tampa Bay Lightning . Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Lightning . Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nikita Kucherov (86)
Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

2. Can the Lightning cope without Nikita Kucherov in 2020-21?

Yes and no.

It was a crushing blow for the Tampa Bay Lightning that, just weeks before the start of the 2020-21 NHL season, they learned that their best and most dynamic offensive weapon in Nikita Kucherov will be missing for the entire regular-season.

Just two years removed from a stellar 128 point season (41 G, 87 A) and having put up 34 points in the postseason as the Lightning finally got their hands on the Stanley Cup last year, Kucherov will be a big miss for this team.

However, it isn’t the automatic end of Tampa Bay’s hopes to repeat in 2020-21.

After all, thanks to the genius of their General Manager Julien BriseBois, who somehow managed to get this team cap compliant, the majority of last season’s roster is back and there is more than enough talent on this team to finish atop the Central Division in a 56-game season.

tampa bay lightning
Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

If Steven Stamkos can stay fully healthy, Brayden Point continues to get better and better, as does Anthony Cirelli, and the likes of Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Johnson can step up and provide secondary scoring both at 5-on-5 and on special teams, then there is enough talent for this team to survive without Kucherov.

If all of that happens then the Lightning will be just fine and the hope is that Kucherov will be back for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In an ideal world, the Russian superstar will return for the last chunk of the regular-season so he can get back into the swing of things before the real business begins. However, the most important thing for Tampa is that they have their main offensive weapon back for the postseason.

If Nikita Kucherov does indeed return for the Stanley Cup Playoffs then the Tampa Bay Lightning will be fine in the meantime but, if he doesn’t, then it could be a completely different story for the reigning champions.