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Tampa Bay Lightning Top-Six Forward Final Report Cards

It is Tampa Bay Lightning report card time! The Tampa Bay Lightning have three games remaining in the 2023-24 regular season. The Bolts completely turned their season around with stellar play throughout the 2024 months of the season. The team will likely finish fourth in the Atlantic Division with the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

After a rough start to the season, Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to the net, and the supporting cast stepped up. Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos elevated their even-strength play to help the Bolts secure a playoff spot. Furthermore, Nikita Kucherov and Brandon Hagel continued their solid play throughout the season. With that, we will grade the top six forwards based on their performance and look back at their mid-season grades.

Tampa Bay Lightning Top-Six Player Grades

Nikita Kucherov (43 Goals – 98 Assists – 141 Points)

Nikita Kucherov still holds the league lead in points with a few games remaining in the regular season. He was voted the best passer in hockey around the league, and Kucherov is on pace to record a historic assist total. The 100-assist mark has not been achieved since the 1990-91 season by Wayne Gretzky. Kucherov needs two assists in his final three games to reach this milestone. The Russian forward is involved in roughly 50% of Tampa Bay’s offence this season and has a case for the Hart Trophy. We expect Kucherov to do big things come playoff time for the Bolts.

Final Grade: A+

Mid-season Grade: A+

Brayden Point (45 Goals – 43 Assists – 88 Points)

At the time of our mid-season report cards, Brayden Point had just 16 goals. As we approach the end of the season, Point is up to 45 goals. Last season, Point recorded 51 goals, breaking the 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Many were concerned with his even-strength goal-scoring to start the season. However, Point completely turned his game around and will be vital in the playoff run for Tampa Bay. The speedy centre is two points shy of back-to-back seasons with over 90 points. Point continues to prove why he is one of the best centremen in the National Hockey League.

Final Grade: A

Mid-season Grade: A-

Brandon Hagel (24 Goals – 48 Assists – 72 Points)

When Brandon Hagel eclipsed 30 goals and 64 points last season, many questioned if he had room for improvement. Hagel answered that question with a Selke-worthy defensive performance and a new career-high point total in 2024. The left winger is the best two-way forward on the Lightning and is an All-Star in his own right. His cross-body passes for micro one-timers are unmatched, and he is flexible in any role in the top six.

Final Grade: A

Mid-season Grade: A-

Anthony Cirelli (20 Goals – 24 Assists – 44 Points)

While Anthony Cirelli remains the defensive prowess of Tampa Bay, his offensive game must find the next level come playoff time. Although he reached 20 goals on the season, Cirelli must provide more production for a $6 million, second line centre. The workhorse will be responsible for matching up against top lines in the playoffs, and Cirelli will continue to be a core piece of the Lightning for years to come.

Final Grade: B

Mid-season Grade: B

Steven Stamkos (39 Goals – 38 Assists – 77 Points)

Unfortunately, the Lightning and Stamkos have not agreed on a new contract with the off-season approaching. However, the Captain is scoring goals at will to close the regular season. Stamkos is in for a payday due to everything he has done for the city of Tampa. After a rough start to the season, Stamkos rebounded nicely to finish with solid totals. However, the 34-year-old experienced serious regression at even strength offensively, which puts his grade lower than the other top-six forwards.

Final Grade: B

Mid-season Grade: B

Nick Paul (23 Goals – 20 Assists – 43 Points)

The final of the Tampa Bay Lightning report cards is Nick Paul. Paul found a role as the net-front man on the top power play in the NHL this season. He cashed in, scoring 20 goals and setting a career-best in points. Additionally, Paul continued his solid defensive play all season. The power forward will be valuable on the forecheck for the playoffs. Paul took a big step in his development this season. Plus, he still has room for growth.

Final Grade: B-

Mid-season Grade: C+

Main Photo: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports


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