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Tampa Bay Lightning fantasy hockey outlook

by Pete Jensen / Tampa Bay Lightning

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Steven Stamkos

Stamkos bounced back from an injury-shortened 2013-14 season by scoring 40-plus goals (43, second in NHL) for the fourth time of his career to go along with 25 power-play points (T-17th) and 268 shots on goal (9th). While those are impressive numbers, 72 points in 82 games is a big drop-off compared to his 90-plus points in three straight seasons earlier in his career. He was widely the second-ranked fantasy player entering last season, but takes a small step back entering drafts this year. He's in the same range of John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, but didn't stack up to Tavares fantasy-wise last season and doesn't have an elite linemate like Seguin (Jamie Benn) and Giroux (Jakub Voracek) have. Making matters even more uncertain is that the Tampa Bay Lightning captain is entering a contract year after his first season of fewer than a point per game since his rookie campaign. Hopefully you have the fifth or sixth pick in your draft so you don't have to make the tough decision of passing on Stamkos with the third or fourth.

Undervalued: Anton Stralman

Victor Hedman is one of the hottest commodities among defensemen after his breakout postseason, but Stralman was an underrated reason for the Lightning's success last season and is definitely worth a mid to late-round pick. He has four straight seasons of plus-9 or better and posted career-highs in goals (nine), assists (30) and SOG (138). Hedman missed time with an injury, so Stralman (14 power-play points to lead Lightning ‘D’) played more total ice time and power-play minutes in the regular season. His role with the man advantage also carried over to the postseason with a ton of time spent on the Lightning's top unit. Stralman's offensive numbers would dip if Hedman plays a full season, but having a strong puck possession guy as a depth 'D' on your fantasy team goes a long way. He's worth drafting way before his Yahoo preseason rank (217) indicates.

Overvalued: Ondrej Palat

Palat was a component of arguably the League’s best trio last season with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, but that doesn't mean you should be reaching for him in fantasy drafts. Few players touched on assists (47, T-12th) and rating (plus-31, 4th) like Palat did last season, but that only helps so much when you have holes in the rest of your standard-league fantasy profile. He only posted 139 SOG in 75 games last season and has an ordinary career average (1.88 shots per game). Six Lightning skaters (five forwards) finished with more power-play points than Palat (11), and his low career PIMs output doesn't help his cause. Johnson and Kucherov will go among the top 50 overall in most drafts, so many fantasy owners will look to round out "The Triplets" line soon after. Unless you're in a hits format (298 in 170 career games), I'd avoid Palat until the seventh round of 12-team drafts (73-84 range).

Deep sleeper: Jonathan Drouin

The Lightning are so deep on the wing, but one injury could open the door for Drouin to be a top-six factor and a fantasy-relevant forward. To this point, Drouin hasn't sniffed the hype surrounding him since he was taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft , but sometimes the second you sleep on a touted prospect, he can bust out (i.e. Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg in 2014-15). Even in Tampa Bay's run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, Drouin had no points, a minus-6 and six SOG in six games. His assist total (28) as a rookie was respectable, but he would benefit immensely from playing alongside Stamkos, Johnson or Valtteri Filppula on a full-time basis. Drouin finished outside the top 300 last season in a depth role, and he's ranked 177th going into the season by Yahoo. Not many fantasy owners will be reaching for him this time around, so take a low-risk, high-reward flyer around the 15th round.

Goalie outlook: Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy

Bishop has the second-most wins (77) in the League over the past two seasons combined behind Carey Price (78) of the Montreal Canadiens in the same numbers of games played (125). He may be a product of one of the NHL's deepest rosters, but has a strong save percentage (.920) in that span. Even with all that regular-season success, injuries have plagued Bishop in the playoffs. He missed the 2014 postseason because of wrist and elbow injuries and played with a torn groin in the 2015 Cup Final.

Injuries can never be anticipated, so Bishop should still be taken among the top five or six goalies in fantasy drafts. But if Bishop misses any time, Vasilevskiy could emerge as a late-round steal. The 21-year-old should play every three or four games if Bishop is healthy, and should be considered in the 14th or 15th round – or even earlier if you own Bishop. Vasilevskiy allowed 34 goals in 16 regular-season games and posted a .893 power-play save percentage, 10th among goalies with 15-plus games played. These are great signs for a young, athletic goalie who plays for a team that should be a Stanley Cup contender for years, so consider Vasilevskiy among the most coveted at his position in keeper leagues.

Follow Pete Jensen on Twitter: @NHLJensen

Author: Pete Jensen | NHL.com Fantasy Insider

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