Before the Tampa Bay Lightning embark on the 2016-17 season, let’s take glance back at the 2015-16 season had by Lightning center Jonathan Marchessault.
One of the greatest things Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman has accomplished over the course of his time here in the Bolts Nation is that he has built a strong developmental system for the team, giving them some of the best depth in the National Hockey League.
During Yzerman’s time here in Tampa Bay, we have seen many young players make their way from the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, to the Lightning’s main roster. Some of them have even become core players.
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One of those bright, young players that had an opportunity to shine last season was now-former Tampa Bay Lightning center Jonathan Marchessault. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before he had a fan-made nickname of his own and a place in the hearts of those here in the Bolts Nation.
Jonathan Marchessault started out the season with the Crunch. Marchessault played in just 11 games with the Crunch before he was recalled to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that amount of time, Marchessault scored six goals and three assists for a total of nine points.
Marchessault played his first game of the 2015-16 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 29, 2015, as the Lightning took on the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, the Avalanche were able to outplay the Bolts that night, but that didn’t stifle Marchessault’s determination.
As players began to return to the lineup after injury, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper was faced with a difficult choice. Someone had to be sent back to the Crunch in order for the Lightning’s roster to remain intact. The question now was, who does he send down?
At the time, had the Tampa Bay Lightning elected to send Marchessault back to Syracuse, he would have had to clear waivers. Let’s be real here for a moment…there is absolutely no way Marchessault would have cleared waivers after the way he’d been playing, and he’s not exactly the kind of talent a team wants to lose.
With that being said, Marchessault remained here in Tampa Bay and another player was sent in his place. Coach Cooper’s decision proved to be a good one as Marchessault continued to perform for the Bolts.
Jonathan Marchessault would play in a total of 45 regular season games with the Lightning last season. In that amount of time, he was able to bring home seven goals and 11 assists for a total of 18 points.
This may not seem like a lot at face value, but keep in mind Marchessault was just two points behind Brian Boyle, who had about 31 games on Marchessault. He was also just 10 points behind Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan.
Strangely enough, despite his production, Marchessault spent a couple long stretches as the Lightning’s healthy scratch of the night. As you can imagine, this can be frustrating for any player, whether that player is a seasoned veteran or a rookie looking to make a name for themselves.
Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jonathan Marchessault became an Unrestricted Free Agent at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. Much to the dismay of Lightning fans, Jonathan Marchessault would be one of the players making their way to a new home for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
Now, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have to face off with Marchessault on more than a few occasions next season as he has signed with the Lightning’s in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. Based on the comments he made during his press conference, his move to the Panthers had a lot to do with playing time.
While we will definitely miss Jonathan Marchessault when the 2016-17 season begins, the old saying still holds true, “the logo on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.” Hopefully, Marchessault will get the playing time he seeks as a member of the Panthers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will face off with the Florida Panthers in the Lightning’s third game of the season, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 18th at the Amalie Arena. While it will be nice to see Marchessault again, once the puck drops the gloves are dropped and all bets are off.