Although he's no longer a part of their franchise, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is largely responsible for assembling the Tampa Bay Lightning championship squads.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to do what no NHL team has done since the legendary New York Islanders teams of the early 1980s – winning three Stanley Cup championships in a row. The Bolts put the finishing touches on their third straight Eastern Conference title last night against the New York Rangers, winning 2-1 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche.
Yzerman took the job of Lightning GM in 2010 and helped transform the franchise into a yearly contender. Under his leadership, the Lightning drafted the likes of Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. He found undrafted diamonds in the rough like Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde. The latter two are no longer part of the team, but current Lightning GM Julien BriseBois learned from Yzerman by acquiring several key depth pieces in their absence, like Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel.
Yzerman's decision to draft Brayden Point in 2014 has paid massive dividends, as he's developed into one of the game's most clutch and valuable players.
Steve Yzerman laid the foundation for Tampa Bay Lightning's success.
Yzerman, who hired coach Jon Cooper, also laid the foundation for long-term success, locking up stars like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman to long-term contracts, as well as acquiring franchise goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy 19th overall in 2012 (from a pick obtained from the Red Wings for Kyle Quincey). Vasilevskiy is now a perfect 7-0 in his last seven clinching postseason games, having allowed a total of one single goal over that span.
Red Wings fans are certainly counting on Yzerman to build a similar winner here in the Motor City, and he's already found two valuable assets in the draft in the form of Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Additionally, he selected towering goaltender Sebastian Cossa in last year's Draft, and we're hoping that he will have a similar career path as Vasilevskiy.