Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Tampa Bay Lightning
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Incoming – Andy Andreoff
Impact of changes – The losses of Kunitz and Sustr were devastating and Lightning fans are wondering how those holes can ever be filled. Well, maybe not. So this team will move forward with status quo. Re-signing Ryan McDonagh, who was acquired at the trade deadline, was the big move of the offseason and no small feat in itself. So next season the Lightning will look the same as the last one, and what’s wrong with that? After all, this was the only team to earn 54 wins and the 296 goals scored was also tops, beating the next highest squad by 19. The key players on this team – Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, J.T. Miller, McDonagh, Andrei Vasilevskiy etc. are still on the rise with the exception of Stamkos and McDonagh who are in the heart of their prime.
Ready for full-time – Anthony Cirelli was called up late last season as a short-term injury replacement when Kucherov went down. He was so impressive that the team couldn’t send him back down and he even saw a regular shift during 17 playoff games. He wasn’t the greatest in the faceoff circle (44.9%) but he turned out to be a pretty productive player on the checking line and did not look out of place. He’ll be tough to cut in training camp, I expect him to stick. (Read Cirelli’s scouting report here)
Adam Erne was a highly-touted potential power forward drafted 33rd overall in 2013. Injuries have since stunted his development, which is understandable given his playing style. But now there are questions as to whether he can stick as an NHL regular and if so it would seem he’ll be targeted for a checking line. He has to clear waivers in order to be sent down this year so expect him to stick for at least a little while. (Read Erne’s scouting report here)
Mathieu Joseph was one of a handful of Lightning prospects to make an impression with Syracuse (AHL) last season. He is probably the player closest to being NHL-ready even though he’s only 21 years old, after an impressive 53-point rookie AHL campaign. (Read Joseph’s scouting report here)
Tampa Bay Lightning prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The top scoring team in the NHL last season returns with the same roster intact, so it’s difficult to give this team any grade other than ‘A’. They have a great young goaltender who is only getting better, an elite top scoring line and a pretty good second line that can put up points as well. And just to add to the fun, the third line could easily post 120 to 140 points between them. Hedman is always a threat to lead all defensemen in scoring and Sergachev is well on his way to becoming a star himself. The prospect pipeline is above average – but year after year those “above average” players always seem to pan out, so don’t underestimate them either.
Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: Surprises, Disappointments, & Everything In-Between (Dec. 4)
- Ramblings: Marner returns; updates on Strome, Spurgeon, and Landeskog; Fiala - December 5
- Fantasy Take: John Hynes fired as coach of Devils
- Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: J.T. Miller, Anze Kopitar, & Brady Tkachuk
- Injury Ward: Dahlin, Backstrom, Landeskog, Fleury, Marner & Hughes
- Capped: Teams with free-agent uncertainty
- Eastern Edge: Storylines from around the East
- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)