*This article was updated in Sept. 2023
Whenever a new franchise enters the NHL, you never know what that team’s 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 struggled 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.
Honorable Mention – Brian Bradley: 111 Goals Scored
Sometimes the most important player for 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.
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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.
T-10. Ondrej Palat & Victor Hedman – 143 Goals Scored
I think the 10th position on this list is an incredibly interesting one. As of Sept. 2023, both Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman sit tied with 143 goals scored, despite these players filling drastically different roles for the franchise.
For Hedman, his presence on this list isn’t really a surprise. He is quickly approaching 1,000 games played with the Lightning, and he posted 20 goals during the 2021-22 season, which tied a team record for defensemen. He is also one of the most prolific defensemen in the NHL when it comes to scoring over the last five seasons, so it makes sense that he will have an impressive total for his position.
When it comes to Palat, I am a bit surprised he isn’t higher on this list. He is one of those players who just did everything well for so long, but he also missed a lot of time due to injuries that shorted some of his more productive seasons. It’s a bit sad to think that he is going to be knocked off this list fully once Hedman scores his first goal of the 2023-24 season, but that’s the nature of any sports team. Great players come and go, and sometimes they get replaced by other great players on these all-time records.
9. 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.
8. 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 franchise’s 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. 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 player who was so easy to overlook despite his contributions. While his play swung wildly between superstar and mediocrity, that doesn’t undo just how good his scoring ability was when everything was clicking.
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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. Alex Killorn: 198 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. Following this, he managed to top this total in 2022-23 when he posted 27 goals. Now he sits sixth overall, having scored 198 goals in 805 games played.
So, while Killorn was far from an elite scoring presence, he still managed to rack up goals throughout his nearly eleven-year tenure in Tampa Bay. While he departed the franchise during the 2023 offseason to sign a big contract with the Anaheim Ducks, this won’t diminish his career. Maybe one day he will return to the Lightning and score two more goals so he will sit an even 200 with the Bolts?
5. Brayden Point: 218 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, while only playing in 499 games, Point has already registered 218 goals, placing him fifth 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.
4. Nikita Kucherov: 276 Goals Scored
If this were a list of the best point producers 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 league 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 276 goals scored in 644 games played, he could find himself at the top of this list by the time his career finishes in Tampa Bay.
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 near the top. While he is no longer the franchise’s most prolific scorer, he posted 588 assists in close to 1,000 games while winning the Art Ross Trophy twice, which is incredibly impressive.
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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.
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.
1. Steven Stamkos: 515 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 515 goals scored in 1,003 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 six 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.
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 35th anniversary in the league.