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Tampa Bay Lightning Free Agency Candidates for 2024-25 Roster

Lightning Free Agency

While depth free agent signings are one of the most disastrous aspects of team-building in the National Hockey League, previous Stanley Cup winners find cost-effective players to fill their rosters. The Tampa Bay Lightning have not relied on free agency to build the top of their lineup over the past decade. However, for the upcoming 2024-25 season, here are some potential options who can work for the Lightning in free agency at a reasonable price.

Three Early Free Agency Options for the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning have not thrown massive deals at unrestricted free agents over the past decade. This approach to the open market may be why Jon Cooper has reached four Stanley Cup Finals in the last nine years. Cooper relies on his talent in the American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, to complement his superstars on the roster. Maxwell Crozier and Emil Martinsen Lilleberg appeared to be solid depth options on the back end. However, the Lightning forwards and defence need a change for the 2024-25 season. What route can they go with their money in July to avoid three straight first-round exits?

Viktor Arvidsson (31 years old)

Despite his small sample size, Viktor Arvidsson was effective in his limited games with the Los Angeles Kings last season. In just 18 games, Arvidsson recorded six goals and nine assists for 15 points (0.83 points per game played). Furthermore, the Swedish winger posted impressive possession numbers via NaturalStatTrick. In roughly 228 minutes of ice time at 5v5, Arvidsson controlled 53.7% of the expected goal share (53.7 xGF%) and 52.43% of the on-ice scoring chances share (52.43 SCF%). Why does Arvidsson stand out for the Lightning?

Arvidsson is not the tallest frame at 5’10” and 185 pounds, but the winger provides immense speed and skill to the middle six forward group. The Lightning lacked depth scoring throughout the 2023-24 season, and Arvidsson is an intriguing complementary piece. Additionally, if the Lightning can not re-sign Anthony Duclair, Arvidsson is a cheap replacement due to his limited 2024 campaign.

Kasperi Kapanen (27 years old)

The Finnish winger had a down year for his standards, recording a career low in goals and points with the St. Louis Blues. In 76 games last season, Kasperi Kapanen notched six goals and 16 assists for 22 points (0.30 points per game played). Moreover, the forward was out-played in on-ice possession numbers. In roughly 892 minutes of ice time at 5v5, Kapanen controlled just 43.06% of the on-ice goal share (43.06 GF%) and 38.1% of the high-danger goal share (38.10 HDGF%). Despite the poor possession metrics, Kapanen is a buy-low candidate for Tampa Bay next season.

With context, Kapanen’s poor defensive results explain themselves. The speedy forward is known for his offence and goal-scoring abilities. However, Kapanen started 14.19% of his shifts in the defensive zone. This percentage ranked fourth amongst Blues forwards. With a change in deployment, Kapanen has the potential to be a solid third-line scoring forward for the Lightning at a cost-effective price next season.

Brett Pesce (29 years old)

The Lightning have a golden opportunity to upgrade the right side of their defensive core by signing Brett Pesce this summer from the Carolina Hurricanes. The 29-year-old defenceman posted a career low in points last season and remains injured during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 70 games played, Pesce scored three goals and ten assists for 13 points (0.19 points per game played). Additionally, Pesce is a solid puck-possession defender. In about 1,191 minutes of ice time at 5v5, Pesce controlled 54.77% of the expected goal share (54.77 xGF%) and 55.76% of the high-danger shot attempt share (55.76 HDCF%).

Despite his lack of production, Pesce is a legitimate top-four option on the right side next season for Victor Hedman or Mikhail Sergachev. Carolina has 11 roster players to sign for next season, including Martin Necas, Brady Skjei, and Jake Guentzel. The Hurricanes will be tight against the salary cap, and Pesce may be available in July.

Raw Statistics via NaturalStatTrick

Main Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


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