Whenever a new franchise enters the NHL, you never know what that teams’ identity will become. While some teams never develop a single trait that defines them, others seemingly double down on one aspect of the game to be the best at.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, the pathway to prominence has been paved on the back of offense. Even when they were struggling to ice competitive teams throughout their rocky early history, the Lightning still managed to find players who helped define what it meant to be a goal scorer during their time in the league.
With so much offensive talent passing through one franchise, let’s look back at the 10 best goal scorers in Lightning history to see who has left a meaningful mark on the history books.
1. Steven Stamkos: 439 Goals Scored
For a franchise with so many great goal scorers, Steven Stamkos is, by a pretty wide margin, the Lightning’s best in franchise history. His 439 goals scored in 841 games played already dwarf Lecavalier’s career totals, and he still is producing at an elite level.
Simply put, Stamkos dominates the Lightning’s scoring record book. His 60-goal season in 2011-12 is the most in franchise history, he has broken 40-goals scored five times in his career, and his one-timer is truly iconic across the league.
The amazing thing is, if he had stayed healthy throughout his career, Stamkos could have even more impressive scoring numbers. Even in seasons when he missed significant time, he threatened to break 30 goals, meaning that he could have scored at least 40 a few more times.
No matter what happens throughout the remainder of his career, Stamkos will go down as one of the best goal scorers in NHL history. While his legacy with the Lightning is ever-expanding, he has already proven that he is the best goal scorer in franchise history.
2. Vincent Lecavalier: 383 Goals Scored
While the Lightning were still a fledgling franchise, they came into the 1998 Draft with the first-overall selection and the need for a true superstar to build their future around. With that pick, they took Vincent Lecavalier, who went on to become one of the defining players of the entire franchise.
Lecavalier was more than just a franchise face for the Lightning, as his offensive game translated almost immediately to the NHL. Throughout his career, he posted 383 goals, including a run of 12-straight seasons scoring at least 20 goals. He also temporarily held the franchise record for goal scoring with 52 tallies en route to the Rocket Richard Trophy during the 2006-07 season.
Few players could replicate what Lecavalier did for the Lightning. He not only lived up to the billing of a first-overall selection, but he helped shape both the franchise he played for and the entire NHL with his goal-scoring ability.
3. Martin St. Louis: 365 Goals Scored
Similar to Kucherov, if this were a list purely about points, then Lightning legend Martin St. Louis would be at the top. He is, far and away, the franchise’s most prolific scorer, posting 588 assists in close to 1,000 games while winning the Art Ross Trophy twice.
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Despite being an assist machine, St. Louis was no goal-scoring slouch. He sits third overall in franchise history, posting 365 goals. He also has the most postseason goals, with 33 in 66 playoff games.
Simply put, there’s a reason why St. Louis’ number was the first to be retired by the Lightning. He is one of the all-time greats for the franchise when it comes to any measure of success and ability.
4. Nikita Kucherov: 221 Goals Scored
If this were a list of the best scorers in Lightning history, then Nikita Kucherov would be near the top. His 128 points in 2018-19 alone were one of the most productive in recent NHL history, and his scoring ability is amongst the best in the entire NHL right now.
However, Kucherov is far more than just a good passer. He is a natural sniper, possessing one of the best shots in Lightning history. From the moment that he scored a goal on his first shot in his NHL game, you could tell that he would be destined for scoring greatness.
After signing an eight-year extension to keep him with the Lightning through the 2026-27 season, Kucherov will have plenty of time to continue showcasing his incredible goal-scoring prowess. Given that he already has 221 goals scored in 515 games played, he could find himself at the top of this list by the time his career finishes in Tampa Bay.
5. Tyler Johnson: 161 Goals Scored
Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how special a player was in their prime. For the Lightning, Tyler Johnson became that name in recent years. While his play swung wildly between superstar and mediocrity, that doesn’t undo just how good his scoring ability was and still is.
Early in his career, Johnson was one of the most dominant goal scorers on an already stacked Lightning team. His play helped to carry the franchise through rough stretches, earning him a Calder Trophy nomination in his rookie season.
Also important to Johnson’s Lightning legacy was his play in the 2015 Postseason. During their run to the Stanley Cup Final, he registered 13 goals, including the franchise’s first and only playoff hat trick.
With his 161 career goals in 589 games played, Johnson will go down in Lightning history as one of the best goal scorers in team history.
6. Brad Richards: 150 Goals Scored
While Brad Richards’ time with the Lightning was relatively short when compared to some of his peers, he still is one of the franchises’ legendary players. As a third-round selection at the 1998 Draft, Richards quickly established himself as one of the best goalscorers on a team loaded with offensive talent.
Richards’ legacy was built on the back of his historic run during the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, where he scored a record seven game-winning goals en route to the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy.
In his seven seasons with the Lightning, Richards scored at least 20 goals five times. By the end of his tenure, he posted an even 150 goals.
Sure, these aren’t gaudy numbers, but he was a consistent scoring threat that helped to push Tampa Bay forward. If he had been able to stay with the franchise like some of his former teammates, he would easily be one of the most-decorated goal scorers in Lightning history.
7. Alex Killorn: 146 Goals Scored
When you think of Alex Killorn, elite goal scoring likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, after posting a career-high 26 goals during the 2019-20 season, he rocketed up the Lightning’s all-time scoring list. Now he sits eighth overall, having scored 146 goals in 641 games played.
So, while Killorn is far from an elite scoring presence, he still has managed to wrack up goals throughout his nearly eight-year tenure in Tampa Bay.
Where Killorn is elite, however, is in his playoff production. He currently sits tied for sixth in Lightning postseason scoring, meaning that he knows how to score when the pressure is highest.
8. Fredrick Modin: 145 Goals Scored
While he may not have been the Lightning’s biggest star, Fredrick Modin is a name the franchise will never forget. In 445 games played with Tampa Bay, he posted 145 goals, breaking 30 goals scored twice. He also scored eight goals throughout the 2004 Stanley Cup run, adding another layer to his legacy.
Related: Lightning All-Decade Team: Offense
As a pure goal scorer, there aren’t many players better in Lightning history than Modin. His scoring totals will forever be amongst the best for the franchise, and he will always be remembered for his hard shot and contributions both on the ice and in the locker room.
9. Brayden Point: 139 Goals Scored
Despite being in the early stages of his NHL career, Brayden Point has already established himself as one of the best scorers in franchise history. His 41 goals scored in 2018-19 puts him in elite company, being one of only six players to break the 40-goal mark for the Lightning.
Also, despite only playing in 351 games, Point has already registered 139 goals, placing him ninth on the Lightning’s all-time goal-scoring list.
As long as he is able to stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe that his scoring will slow down any time soon. In fact, by the end of his career, he will likely be near the top of this list.
10. Vinny Prospal: 127 Goals Scored
Sitting ninth overall in Lightning goal-scoring history is Vinny Prospal, who registered 127 goals in 468 games played. As a player, he had a fruitful career in Tampa Bay, playing with the franchise for six seasons while breaking 20 goals scored three times in that span.
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However, what Prospal is most known for is his buyout. After signing a four-year, $14 million contract before the start of the 2008-09 season, he was bought out just one year later. This negated the final three years of a relatively affordable and productive player for the Lightning.
As best said by Kyle Barber of Boltsbythebay.com:
The buyout caused a $1.17 million dollar cap hit until the end of the 2014-15 season… All of this to replace what was already a decent 40 point scorer making $3.5 million dollars per season for bust in Alex Tanguay and a hit on the salary cap for six seasons.
Honorable Mention – Brian Bradley: 111 Goals Scored
Sometimes the most important player to an expansion franchise can come from an unexpected place. For the Lightning, that player was Brian Bradley. With their 18th selection at the 1992 Expansion Draft, the Lightning acquired Bradley who had only posted 10 goals the year prior for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, Bradley burst onto the scene during the 1992-93 season, scoring 42 goals. While he would fail to replicate these numbers again, he still broke at least 20 goals scored in three of his four full seasons in Tampa Bay.
Even though his Lightning career was cut short due to injury, Bradley still sits just outside the top 10, with 111 goals. Despite getting knocked off this list, you have to mention him when discussing players who will forever go down as one of the most important goal scorers in franchise history.
Lightning Are Defined by Their Scoring
While things weren’t always smooth for the Lightning as they established themselves in the NHL, the franchise managed to find their foothold on the back of goal scoring. With plenty of scoring talent on their roster, this franchise appears to be in good hands as they work towards their 30th anniversary in the league.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.