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Last year's ranking: 30
Title track: 26
Fan relations: 20
Stadium experience: 5
Bang for the buck: 21
After a disastrous, lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, the Lightning bolted back into contention last season, finishing third in the Eastern Conference with 101 points and notching one of the best seasons in team history, despite losing superstar Steven Stamkos for 45 games with a broken shin and trading the franchise's points leader, Martin St. Louis, at the deadline. The emergence of Ben Bishop in goal and standout rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat was instrumental in Tampa Bay's turnaround on the ice in 2014 and has Lightning fans -- who bumped their team up 24 spots after a precipitous drop last year -- jazzed again about their club's prospects.
GM Steve Yzerman is considered one of the brightest front-office stars in hockey and has done a terrific job making this team younger without compromising on-ice success or raising costs. Tampa Bay ranks fourth overall in affordability (with the NHL's second-lowest average cost per game, at $60.81) and fifth in stadium experience, thanks to a $50 million renovation of the Amalie Arena that included a state-of-the-art, high-def Daktronics scoreboard, which is one of the largest single-hung boards in North America. What fans will see on that HD screen in 2014-15 could be picture-perfect: A healthy Stamkos and one of the youngest and most talented cores in the NHL look primed for a big strike.