August 22, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-08-21

 

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I only have four "official" ramblings left before I step down from my post here at DobberHockey, and I will do my best to make them my four best ramblings yet!

 

Read on for everything and anything pertaining to the world of hockey (and, as always, fantasy hockey, in particular).

 

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I have seen both Ryan Malone and Jonathan Drouin pencilled in alongside Stamkos and St. Louis this summer. I simply don't see Malone playing there. Drouin isn't a third line talent, and the Lightning will want to ensure he has every opportunity to succeed as a teenager.

 

I'd still expect Malone to see time there (especially in more physical games and on the power play). Here is how I see the Tampa top nine shaping up for opening night:

 

Drouin – Stamkos – St. Louis

 

Killorn – Filppula – Purcell

 

Malone – Johnson – Panik (or Connolly/comparable prospect)

 

More on the Lightning lineup situation from Raw Charge.

 

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And after writing about him forever (at least it seems that way…), this is the year that Mark Barberio finally breaks in to the NHL on a full-time basis. Tampa has some defensemen capable of chipping in offensively, but they don't have a true PP QB on the back end. Barberio could fill that void as early as this season.

 

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To me, the toughest nut to track with my projections has been the forward group in St. Louis. I have written about my thoughts on the subject before, but let me dive into a bit more detail.

 

The scoring/offensive line:

 

Schwartz-Roy-Stewart

 

Why? Schwartz is a natural LW (not many of them on the roster). Roy is the most talented center and is a natural playmaker, while Stewart is the best pure sniper on the team. Give this line the offensive minutes and led the other players do the grunt work.

 

The two-way/shut-down line:

 

Steen-Backes-Oshie

 

Big, fast, physical, and skilled. Not many teams in the NHL could compete with this unit from an overall perspective. Even in tough minutes, I'd expect all three to be productive.

 

The scoring depth/puck possession line:

 

Paajarvi-Berglund-Tarasenko

 

Size, skill, puck possession – this line has it all. Berglund and Paajarvi will both open up a lot of ice for Tarasenko to work his magic.

 

 

 

Sobotka-Lapierre-Reaves

 

Two agitators and a guy who throws massive hits – a fantastic fourth line capable of chipping in offensively (but that won't be their role with this team).

 

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Sticking with the Blues – Jaro Halak has put some serious work in this summer, shedding 14 pounds of body fat in three months. That is extremely impressive (he stuck around St. Louis to work with strength coach Nelson Ayotte), but also begs the question – what the heck was he eating before?

 

Hopefully losing the weight and getting stronger in the core/lower body will cut