Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Tampa Bay Lightning
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Mark Barberio, Brendan Morrow
Impact of changes – So the awesome young team that went to the Stanley Cup Final made one change – out goes the aging, broken down Morrow…and in comes the hustling Condra. An upgrade of a depth winger. Something that absolutely will not rock the boat.
The Lightning boast the most potent offense in the NHL and if anything, this small depth move would add another 10 or 12 goals.
Ready for full-time – Nikita Nesterov showed excellent poise upon being called up to the big club late last season. And although his playoff presence waned as the team got deeper, the 22-year-old probably has his spot as a regular sewn up. His possession numbers were fantastic, much better than the more experienced Andrej Sustr's. And by the end of 2015-16 he could be in the top four. Pencil him in for 20 points, with potential for 25 or 30.
Jonathan Drouin's name appears in this section because he is not a lock to make this team. And that's not an insult to the 20-year-old. But he was kept with the big club because sending him to junior would have taught him absolutely nothing other than how to dance around pylons and score at will. He wasn't eligible to go to the AHL last year, but this season that is no longer the case. The team could elect to send him down and learn to play the game and dominate at that level. You saw this happen with Kyle Turris and Nino Niederreiter (for example). So do not make the mistake of assuming he is on the team. He probably will be, but it's just not assured. And if he makes it, it will be on merit.
Jonathan Marchessault would be the reason Drouin does not make it. When the team had an injured forward in the postseason, instead of turning to Drouin they turned to Marchessault. Now 24, the undrafted Marchessault broke out for Syracuse, posting 67 points in 68 games. He also impressed team brass with his responsible play during four regular season and playoff games. At 5-8, he doesn't boast ideal size. But as with just a handful of smaller skilled players who separate themselves from the pack, he's forcing the team to take a closer look.
Fantasy Outlook – Once again the Lightning will be an elite scoring machine. Music to the ears of fantasy owners. And they have several lines of potent scorers to go along with a handful of truly talented prospects with a lot of upside. The goaltending is among the upper tier with both starter Ben Bishop and backup Andrei Vasilevskiy. Scoring from the blue line is also among the best, with even more talent on the way in Anthony DeAngelo and Slater Koekkoek. From a fantasy standpoint – flawless.
Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A)
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