Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Tampa Bay Lightning
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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.
Impact of changes – Uh, what’s going on with all the goaltending? Five goalies with NHL experience were added, giving them seven goalies. Granted, in the case of Mazanec they only acquired the rights. But I wonder why they did this? Even with an anticipated trade of Louis Domingue, is there something we should know here? I realize I am reading a lot into what are some very minor moves, but I’ve never seen this before – Condon, Martin, Wedgewood and Mazanec could all be considered No.3 or No.4 goaltenders and they signed with a team that already has three goalies (once McElhinney signed).
Anyway, enough with the little sidebar. The big thing is that the Lightning were in a bit of salary cap trouble and they navigated their way out of it because they have a strong, young, competitive team in a beautiful, warm, tax-friendly market and players want to go there. They let veteran defenseman Stralman walk, and then signed puck-moving defenseman Shattenkirk to a steal of a deal. Defensively there are some holes now, but offensively this is obviously an upgrade. Andrei Vasilevskiy owners will only hurt a tiny bit from this – he’s still the best goalie option in fantasy hockey. Maroon is a downgrade in talent and offense versus Miller, who was actually the team’s top scorer 19 games into the season (remember that? Or did you forget?) when he had top-line minutes, but faded once he was made a third liner. Overall, the offense is probably a wash and the defense suffers only slightly.
Ready for full-time – The Lightning, if healthy, will begin the season with a full lineup of veterans. Later in the season there will be some opportunities. Alex Barre-Boulet is a smaller center who made a big splash in the AHL as a rookie. The 2017-18 CHL player of the year went to Syracuse in 2018-19 and posted 68 points in 74 games to lead all rookies. Definitely look for him in the second half. And if the team doesn’t sign Brayden Point, then Barre-Boulet would get a long look in training camp. Read more on Barre-Boulet here.
Gemel Smith has had several stints in the NHL and he hasn’t been too bad. He’s just one of those players who doesn’t quite excel enough to force the team to keep him up, and he’s not getting chances handed to him. Still only 25 and coming off a 40-point (in 47 games) season with Providence, Smith could see some time on a depth line with the big club.
Defenseman Cal Foote had an excellent rookie-pro debut, garnering 10 goals and 31 points in 76 contests. At 6-4, 221 pounds and a former 14th overall pick (2017), you just know he is going to be a staple in the TB lineup – and relatively quickly. For the coming season I can see a couple of lengthy cups of coffee and getting into a couple of dozen games. But I think 2020-21 is when he becomes a regular.
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 Lightning have been the top-scoring team in the league for two consecutive years, and last year it wasn’t even close. Their 325 goals scored were 36 more than the next highest team. They’re going to lead the league again, but this time it will be much closer (I have the gap at 14 over the Leafs).
Cap trouble, schmap trouble. This team is great. Plenty of options to choose from up front, led by the top scorer in the league Nikita Kucherov, but Steven Stamkos and the as-yet-unsigned Brayden Point aren’t too bad either. Plenty on the back end too, with Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Shattenkirk. An embarrassment of riches, really. Goaltender Vasilevskiy is the top goalie own in fantasy hockey and as Domingue showed last year – any backup who gets to play behind this lineup is getting the W and some sweet numbers to go with it. The prospect pipeline is still pretty good too. Please, can all my players be traded to this team?
Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A+)
Pick up the 14th annual DobberHockey Fantasy Hockey Guide
2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades
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