Entering the league in 1992, the Tampa Bay Lightning have found regular success since the turn of the millennium. Winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 and again in 2020 and 2021 plus four Conference Finals appearances since, it’s no surprise some drifters have found their way into the Tampa Bay lineup over the years.
Number 5: Adrian Aucoin
Adrian Aucoin spent his early career with the Vancouver Canucks and found himself in the midst of a breakout year in 1998-99. He continued his hot play entering the 1999-00, albeit slowing down a bit. The following season his stellar play disappeared entirely and the Canucks shipped him off to Tampa Bay in exchange for goalie Dan Cloutier. He finished out the 2000-01 season in Tampa, suiting up for 26 games scoring one goal and 12 points. Aucoin was again traded in the summer of 2001, this time heading to the Islanders.
Number 4: Gary Roberts
After a career that spanned 21 years, Gary Roberts was dealing with a string of injuries leading to his play falling off a cliff. In the summer of 2008 he couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins so they traded his rights to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He tried to make a comeback , but an elbow injury forced him to miss 33 games. Roberts did manage to suit up for 30 games, but was placed on waivers before the 2009 trade deadline. Going unclaimed, he retired on March 10, 2009 after 1,224 NHL games.
Number 3: Sheldon Keefe
The current head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs had a brief, controversy filled playing career. Drafted by the Lightning 47th overall in 1999 he made his NHL debut in the 2000-01 season. After struggling, he was demoted to the AHL, where he refused to report and was subsequently suspended without pay. He spent two more seasons going back and fourth from the AHL and NHL before he was traded to Phoenix in the summer of 2004 after 125 games in Tampa.
Number 2: Alexandre Daigle
Once a highly-touted prospect, he is best known for being one of the biggest draft busts of all time. After his tenure with the Senators came to an end he bounced around the league quite a bit trying to find a home. On January 29, 1999 he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers from the Flyers for forward Andrei Kovalenko. Later the same day he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Alex Selivanov. Daigle finished the 1998-99 season with the Bolts, playing 32 games and scoring 12 points. In the summer of 1999 the Lightning traded him to the New York Rangers who, also, tried and failed to use him as a reclamation project.
Number 1: Olaf Kolzig
Kolzig spent 15 years of his career with the Washington Capitals before being overtaken as the starter by Cristobal Huet. After the 2008 season came to an end he announced his intentions to not return to Washington, instead opting to sign a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He suited up for eight games before rupturing his biceps tendon, effectively ending his season. He was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline as a way for the Bolts to get rid of his cap hit.
Drafted 42nd overall by the New Jersey Devils, Mike Commodore became a journeyman for much of his NHL career. He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2011-12 season, but after just 17 games he was dealt to the Lightning for a seventh round pick. He suited up for 13 games going pointless in Tampa before leaving the NHL during the lockout. His last games in the NHL were with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the dying days of his storied career, Evgeni Nabokov found himself on the outs with the New York Islanders. Considering retirement, he signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2014-15 season. He went 3-6-2 backing up Ben Bishop and was put on waivers on February 1, 2015. Eight days later he was dealt back to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations so he could retire where his career began.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Photo credit: si.com