The off season for the Lightning began on June 15, 2015, when the lightning lost in the Stanley Cup final in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. On June 17, 2015, during exit interviews, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman stated that his number one priority was to sign Steven Stamkos to a long term contract. Stamkos also expressed his desire to remain with the team when stated that "I've said it all along, I want to win a championship with this group. It's been a great ride this year. I know we'll have some talks, whether it's in the next day or weeks, I don't know. But we'll definitely be getting something worked out hopefully shortly." Yzerman expressed that Stamkos had done everything that the team asked of him and that Stamkos played through an injury during the playoffs. The nature and the extent of the injury were not revealed during exit interviews. Yzerman also addressed the teams goaltending and expected roster changes in his interview. Yzerman stated that he would be really comfortable with Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy as the goalies heading into the season. Yzerman also added that he was not looking to move either goalies, and that he'd like to enjoy the tandem for another year or two. When answering questions on the roster, Yzerman said that he did not expect a lot of roster changes by pointing out that Vladislav Namestnikov, Jonathan Drouin, and Nikita Nesterov will get more opportunities with the team in the coming season. On the injury front, Lightning center Tyler Johnson revealed that he was not sure if his broken right wrist would require surgery in the off season. He said that he got hurt in Game one of the Stanley Cup Final when he landed on it after getting checked at mid-ice by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. Goalie Ben Bishop said that his groin tear suffered in the final will not require surgery, just rest in the off season.
On June 22, 2015, the Lightning released its preseason schedule for the 2015–16 NHL season. The Lightning will be playing the Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Dallas Stars at Amalie Arena and at their opponents venue. In addition to these opponents, the Lightning will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA game in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The game will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network. Johnstown was selected "Kraft Hockeyville USA" through a public voting system at www.krafthockeyville.com. Along with being the host arena, the Johnstown Cambria County War Memorial Arena will receive $150,000 in upgrades. Fans may be familiar with the arena, because it was the inspiration for Charestown and the Chiefs in the 1977 Paul Newman film Slap Shot. Later in the same day, assistant coach George Gwozdecky announced that he was leaving the team to pursue other opportunities. Gwozdecky said that he felt this decision coming for "a while," and that after his two-year deal expired, he and the team mutually agreed to part ways. He also stated that "I have nothing but great memories, great things to say about the team, about the organization," and that "it was a great learning experience. In his phone interview, Gwozdecky said he does not have anything lined up, other than some rest and relaxation. George will be attending this week's NHL draft with the Lightning, and taking part in the coaches association meetings before making his annual drive back home to Denver.
On June 23, 2015, the Lightning announced that they will continue their partnership with the Lyon Hockey Club Lions for the 2015-16 season. The affiliation will last the entire season, which includes business and marketing elements for the clubs. The key component is that the Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, will hold training camp and play preseason games versus the Utica Comets in Lyon, France. The games will take place at Charlemagne Skating Rink, which has been home to the Lions since 1967.
The Lightning are set to host a four team rookie tournament at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida, which takes place from September 12–15. The arena is the home of the Lightning's ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades. The teams participating will be the Nashville Predators, the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals. This is the first time in franchise history that the Lightning has hosted a rookie tournament. As with previous tournaments the team participated in, the tournament will feature some of the top young talent the respective teams have to offer.
On June 28, 2015, the Lightning announced the signing of forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two way contract. Marchessault appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Lightning this past postseason. He also appeared in two games during the regular season, recording one goal. This was first career goal, which was scored on April 11, 2015. In addition, Marchessault played in 68 AHL games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, ranking sixth in the league in assists(43). The Lightning also announced the signing of Brian Hart to a three-year, two-way contract. Hart appeared in 37 games with the Harvard Crimson during the 2014-15 season, recording seven goals and 17 points. Hart has played in 98 career games with Harvard over three seasons, recording 18 goals and 50 points.
On June 29, 2015, the Lightning announced the signing of forward Mike Blunden to a one-year, two-way contract. Blunden appeared in two regular season games with the Lightning last season, recording two penalty minutes. He also played in 33 games with the Syracuse Crunch, recording 13 goals and 22 points. Over his professional career, Blunden has appeared in 104 NHL games with the Lightning, the Montreal Canadiens, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. Blunden has also appeared in 412 career AHL games, posting 96 goals and 209 points.
On June 30, 2015, the Lightning re-signed Andrej Sustr to a two-year, one-way contract. Sustr played in 72 regular season games, recording 13 assists and 34 penalty minutes. These were all career highs for Sustr. Sustr also appeared in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Lightning, registering one goal and two points. Sustr has played in 117 career NHL games, all with Tampa over the past three seasons, collecting one goal and 21 points. Sustr was fourth in blocked shots on the team (84), and he set the Lightning franchise record for the best plus/minus (+7) in a playoff series in the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings. The team also announced the re-signing of Syracuse Crunch captain, Mike Angelidis, to a one-year contract. Angelidis appeared in three games with the Lightning last season, recording 12 penalty minutes. He also played in 64 games for the Crunch in 2014-15, recording 20 goals and 38 points.
On July 1, 2015, the Lightning signed free agent forward Erik Condra to a three-year contract with a $1.25 million average. Condra had played the previous five seasons with the Ottawa Senators, which is the team he was originally drafted by in the 2006 NHL Draft in the 7th round. Condra had 9 goals and 14 assists in 68 games. Condra is known for his strong work on the penalty kill, which could make Condra a key third/fourth-line player and penalty killer for the Lightning. Condra also has ties to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who played for him while Cooper was coach of Texarkana of the USHL. The signing of Condra likely means that Brenden Morrow's tenure with the team is coming to an end. Later in the day, the Lightning announced the signing of free agent defensemen Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract. Taormina played 76 games with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, notching 11 goals and 38 points. This will be Taromina's second stint with the organization, having previously played with both the Lightning and the Crunch over two seasons.
On July 5, 2015, the Lightning signed forward Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract. Tambellini has skated in 242 NHL games over six season, recording 27 goals and 63 points. He played his last NHL season with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2010-11 season. In the 2014-15 season, Tambellini skated in 30 games with Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss-A league, registering five goals and 13 points. He also played in 20 games with Vaxjo Lakers in the Swedish Hockey League, recording six goals and nine points.
On July 8, 2015, the Lightning re-signed Philippe Paradis to a one-year, two-way contract. Paradis skated in 34 games with the Syracuse Crunch during the 2014-15 season, posting 8 goals and 15 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes. Paradis missed the final three months of the season due to an injury. Despite missing three months, he recorded a career best in goals.
On July 17, 2015, the Lightning announced the re-signing of forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski one-year, two-way contract. Namestnikov skated in 43 games with the Lightning during the 2014-15 NHL season, posting nine goals and 16 points (9-7-16), which were all career highs. Namestnikov appeared in 12 Stanley Cup playoff games in 2015, recording one assist. In addition, he played in 34 games with the Syracuse Crunch during the 2014-15 season, registering 14 goals and 35 points. Namestnikov represented the Crunch at the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic. Witkowski played in 16 games with the Lightning during the 2014015 season, recording 15 penalty minutes. He had 37 hits and blocked 20 shots during his sixteen-game stint with the team. Witkowski skated in 50 games with the Crunch last season, collecting two goals and eight points along with 91 penalty minutes. He also skated in three Calder Cup Playoff games with Syracuse in 2015, posting one assist and four penalty minutes.
On July 21, 2015, the Lightning announced the signing of forward Tye McGinn to a one-year, two-way contract. McGinn skated in 51 games in the NHL last season, between the San Jose Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes, posting two goals and seven points. McGinn has appeared in 87 career NHL games over three seasons, recording nine goals and 17 points to go along with 44 penalty minutes. McGinn has also skated in 163 career AHL games over three seasons, collecting 46 goals and 79 points.
On July 24, 2015, the Lightning announced that Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke had resigned to become Chief Operating Officer of the National Football League. Effective immediately, Lightning President Steve Griggs has been named as the orgization's Chief Executive Officer.
On July 29, 2015, the ECHL league owners voted unanimously to have single affiliation with NHL teams. Tampa's ECHL affiliate the Florida Everblades are now solely affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes. Everblades President and general manager Craig Bursh said the owners wanted the 28 teams in the league to have an affiliation opportunity.
On August 18, 2015, the Lightning announced the hiring of Brad Lauer as an assistant coach, which fills the vacancy left by the departure of George Gwozdecky at the end of the season. Lauer indicated that he will primarily work with the forwards, and collaborate with Cooper on the power play. Lauer spent the previous four seasons with the Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach. As a player, he was drafted by the New York Islanders. He played in 323 NHL games with the Islanders, Senators, Blackhawks, and Penguins, recording 44 goals and 111 points.
On September 4, 2015, the Lightning announced that Andrei Vasilevskiy had undergone surgery the day before to remove a blood clot near his collarbone. Vasilevskiy arrived in Tampa this week reporting swelling in his upper left arm. Vasilevskiy was sent to the doctor as a precaution, where he was diagnosed with a type of thoracic outlet syndrome, which is a condition considered rare among hockey players. Lightning General Manager, Steve Yzerman, was encouraged that Vasilevskiy's surgery would not effect him long term. Dr. Karl Illig said that 90 to 95 percent of people get back to being a high level athlete. The prognosis for Vasilevskiy's recovery is between two and three months. Yzerman said that the team would look at Kristers Gudlevskis, Allen York, and Adam Wilcox as potential backups to Ben Bishop during training camp. However, Yzerman did not rule out the possibility of bringing in a veteran NHL goalie to compete for the backup goalie position.
On September 8, 2015, the Lightning announced that they brought in veteran goalie Ray Emery and center Ryan Martindale on a training camp tryouts. Emery, 32, has played nine NHL seasons, the last two with the Flyers. Emery is expected to get a look at being the potential backup goalie, while Vasilevskiy recovers from his medical procedure.
On September 17, 2015, the Lightning announced the signing of defenseman Daniel Walcott to a three-year, two-way contract. Walcott, skated in 54 games last season with Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording 7 goals and 41 points. He was first on the team among defensemen in goals, assists and points. He also appeared in six playoff games, recording a goal and four points. In his QMJHL career, he has appeared in 121 games, all with the Armada, collecting 17 goals and 80 points. He made his professional debut last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League on an ATO.
On September 23, 2015, the Lightning announced their first training camp roster cuts. The team reduced its training camp roster by ten players, which reducing the camp roster to 53 players. Goalie Philippe Cadorette and defenseman Kevin Gibson were released from their professional tryout agreements. Anthony Cirelli, Cristiano Digiacinto, Bokondji Imama, Mathieu Joseph, Matthew Spencer, Mitchell Stephens, Ben Thomas, and Dennis Yan were assigned to their respective junior hockey clubs.
On September 24, 2015, the Lightning announced that defenseman Dominik Masin had been reassigned to the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, which reduces the training camp roster to 53. Masin is expected to get a larger role playing for the Petes this season than he would have with the crowded blue line in Syracuse.
On September 28, 2015, it was announced that all five Syracuse Crunch player that the Lightning put on waivers Sunday afternoon cleared NHL waivers today, allowing them to join the AHL team. The five veterans will be part of the roster that travels to Lyon, France today for a three-game tournament. Potential Syracuse assignment players still with Tampa that would require waivers to skate with Crunch are Syracuse team captain Mike Angelidis and Jonathan Marchessault.
On October 1, 2015, the Lightning announced that Brayden Point had been reassigned to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Point played in two games for the Lightning this preseason, recording three shots. Point also skated in all three of the team's prospect tournament games in Estero last month, recording a goal and three points. He was tied for third on the Bolts for points during the tournament.
On October 5, 2015, the Lightning announced that forwards Mike Angelidis and Jonathan Marchessault had been placed on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to the Syracuse Crunch. Both forwards will have to go unclaimed on waivers for twenty four hours before they are officially assigned the Crunch. The Lightning also provided an update on injured backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Today Vasilevskiy did an on ice work out goalie coach Frantz Jean, facing shots from close range. He is still on blood thinners, which is restricting him from facing shots in the left shoulder area. He has an appointment on October 21, which will hopefully clear him for a return to full practice. Vasilevskiy stated that he thinks he will need a few games in Syracuse on a conditioning assignment before he is ready to return to the lineup.
On October 7, 2015, the Lightning assigned Slater Koekkoek to the Syracuse Crunch. Yzerman said that both Koekkoek and Witkowski impressed during training camp and are expected to help the Lightning during the season when needed. Yzerman also said, "If we wanted to we could have kept them on this team. They're better off playing a lot of minutes in the American Hockey League." On the same day, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper announced that Ryan Callahan will wear a permanent "A" as an alternate captain this season. Cooper said the other "A" will be rotated among a group of players for the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's first-round pick went to the Philadelphia Flyers as the result of a trade on March 2, 2015 that sent Braydon Coburn to Tampa Bay in exchange for Radko Gudas, a third-round pick in 2015 and this pick (being conditional at the time of the trade). The condition – Philadelphia will receive the Lightning's first-round draft pick in 2015 if it is not the first overall selection – was converted on March 30, 2015 when Tampa Bay qualified for the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs ensuring that this pick could not be a lottery selection.
a The Edmonton Oilers' second-round pick went to the Tampa Bay Lightning as the result of a trade on June 26, 2015 that sent the Rangers' first-round pick in 2015 (28th overall) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Florida's third-round pick in 2015 (72nd overall) and this pick.
The Islanders previously acquired this pick as the result of a trade on June 26, 2015 that sent Griffin Reinhart to Edmonton in exchange for Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 2015 (16th overall) and this pick.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's second-round pick went to the Calgary Flames as the result of a trade on June 27, 2015 that sent Calgary and Washington's third-round picks both in 2015 (76th and 83rd overall) to Arizona in exchange for this pick.
The Rangers previously acquired this pick as the result of a trade March 5, 2014 that sent Ryan Callahan, a conditional first-round pick in 2014, a first-round pick in 2015, and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015 to Tampa Bay in exchange for Martin St. Louis and this pick (being conditional at the time of the trade). The condition – the Rangers will receive a second-round pick in 2015 if Callahan is re-signed by Tampa Bay for the 2014–15 NHL season – was converted on June 25, 2014 when Tampa Bay signed Callahan to a six-year contract.
d The Florida Panthers' third-round pick went to the Tampa Bay Lightning as the result of a trade on June 26, 2015 that sent the Rangers' first-round pick in 2015 (28th overall) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Edmonton's second-round pick in 2015 (33rd overall) and this pick.
The Islanders previously acquired this pick as the result of a trade on June 28, 2014 that sent a third-round pick in 2014 to Florida in exchange for this pick.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's seventh-round pick went to the New York Islanders as the result of a trade on June 28, 2014 that sent a seventh-round pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2014 and this pick.