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30 in 30: Tampa Bay Lightning fantasy outlook

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

As part of's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Starting at the top: Steven Stamkos, C; Nikita Kucherov, RW

Stamkos, when healthy, is one of the best players in the NHL. He's led the Lightning in goals in six of the past seven seasons; it likely would be seven straight had he not missed 45 games in 2013-14 because of a broken leg (he was tied for second on the Lightning with 25 goals). Stamkos also has finished second or better on the Lightning in points in six of the past seven seasons. He's a machine on the power play with at least 10 power-play goals in six of seven seasons and has the potential for 250 shots on goal, a number he's surpassed four times in eight seasons. He's a top 10 forward bordering on top five and could be a steal if he's passed on in the first round.

Kucherov had 30 goals, 66 points, nine power-play goals, 25 power-play points and 209 shots on goal last season, all NHL career highs. He was a plus-9, more in line of what to expect than his plus-38 of 2014-15, which tied for the League lead. The 23-year-old is a top 15 forward and should help in all categories except penalty minutes; he had 30 in 77 games last season and has 81 in 211 NHL games. There is no reason to think he won't put up similar or better offensive numbers compared to the past two seasons.

Undervalued: Jonathan Drouin, LW

If Drouin's success during the Stanley Cup Playoffs (five goals, nine assists in 17 games) translates to a full regular season, he could be in for a huge fantasy breakout. The No. 3 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft was able to produce in the postseason mostly on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Ondrej Palat. Drouin played on the first power-play unit in the absence of Stamkos, and had six playoff power-play points (he has eight power-play points in 91 regular-season games). The biggest question facing Drouin's value is whether he will mesh with Stamkos or play on the Lightning's other top even-strength line with Tyler Johnson and Kucherov. Either way, Drouin seems to have put the past behind him, including a stint in the American Hockey League, a trade demand and a suspension by the team. If Drouin plays on the first power-play unit and stays among the Lightning's top six, he has a great chance to finish among the top 75 overall fantasy assets.

Overvalued: Tyler Johnson, C

Johnson made a big impact as a rookie in 2013-14 with 24 goals, 26 assists, 10 power-play points, five shorthanded goals and a plus-23 rating, and finished third in Calder Trophy voting. In 2014-15, he bettered those numbers with 29 goals, 43 assists, 72 points, 17 power-play points and a plus-33 rating that was third in the League. But Johnson took a step back last season with 14 goals, 24 assists, 38 points and a plus-4 in 69 games. The 26-year-old took fewer shots (167) than his previous two seasons and had an NHL career low 8.4 shooting percentage. Even if he stays healthy, he'll likely be outperformed in points by Stamkos, Kucherov and Palat. Johnson finished 198th in Yahoo's performance-based rankings and isn't worth taking until the ninth or 10th round of a 12-team league.

Sleeper: Vlad Namestnikov, C

Namestnikov tied for fourth on the Lightning in goals (14), was ninth in assists (21) and second in plus/minus (plus-17) last season. His shooting percentage was and likely will continue to be high because he isn't a high-volume shooter. Namestnikov had 106 shots on goal in 80 games last season (13.2 shooting percentage), one season after he had nine goals on 46 shots (19.6 percent). He's not a top-six forward but proved he could be when injuries to Stamkos and Johnson forced him into that role. Namestnikov could see increased power-play time after the Lightning were 28th in the League (15.8 percent) last season. He finished outside the top 200 in overall fantasy ranking last season but should finish well above that this season.

Bounce-back: Ondrej Palat, LW

Palat's production was down significantly last season. He had 40 points in 62 games after having 63 points in 75 games in 2014-15. He had dips in power-play points (11 to 7) and plus/minus (plus-31 to plus-10). It's worth noting that Palat had 23 goals, 59 points and a plus-32 rating as a rookie in 2013-14 and was second in the Calder Trophy voting. Had he not dealt with injuries last season, Palat likely would have had 20 goals and 60 points. Palat, who finished outside the fantasy top 300, sustained an ankle injury in November which caused him to miss a month, then reaggravated it in his second game back, causing him to miss eight more games. He scored at more than a point-per-game pace in the final 19 games of the regular season (nine goals, 11 assists) and is worth drafting around the 11th round.

Impact prospect: Adam Erne, LW

Erne, a second-round pick (No. 33) in the 2013 NHL Draft, had 14 goals and 29 points and added a physical element with 74 penalty minutes in 59 games with Syracuse of the AHL last season. In 2014-15 with Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Erne had 41 goals, 45 assists, 86 points, 102 penalty minutes and was a plus-21, and had 21 goals in 22 QMJHL playoff games, which would translate to nice category coverage. Erne (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) likely will start the season in Syracuse but could get called up sometime during the season.

Goalie outlook

Ben Bishop has proven his worth. He's been a Vezina Trophy finalist twice in the past three seasons and has won at least 35 games in three straight seasons. But he's no guarantee to start at least 60 games for a fourth consecutive season; Andrei Vasilevskiy, who started 21 games last season (11-10-0, 2.76 GAA, .910 save percentage) signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension July 1. With Bishop set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, it's likely Vasilevskiy will play more and be groomed to be the full-time starter in 2017-18. Bishop is a top five goalie and should be taken among the top three at his position, but Vasilevskiy should be drafted as a handcuff. The Lightning also have Kristers Gudlevskis, but with two NHL regular-season NHL he isn't worth drafting barring an injury to Bishop or Vasilevskiy.

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