As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at Tampa Bay Lightning players, listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
[Lightning 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers | NHL.com/Fantasy]
Nikita Kucherov, RW (NHL.com rank: 5) -- The 25-year-old finished third in the NHL with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 80 games. He also finished top 10 in shots on goal (279), power-play points (36) and even-strength goals (31). He finished third overall in Yahoo and is a near lock to finish top 10 again this season based on his 100-point potential.
Steven Stamkos, C (12) -- The 28-year-old had his highest point total since 2011-12. His 86 points (27 goals, 59 assists) were second on the Lightning behind Kucherov and 12th in the NHL. He finished tied for third in the NHL with 15 power-play goals, a trend he carried over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he scored six (T-1st). The Lightning had the third-ranked power play in the NHL (23.9 percent) and should have the opportunity to be among the best in the NHL for a second straight season. Given the chemistry formed with Kucherov and Tampa Bay's overall team security, Stamkos should be selected in the first round of season-long fantasy drafts.
Video: 31 in 31: Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-19 season preview
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G (17) -- The No. 1 goalie had a breakout season with 44 wins (T-1st in NHL), including eight shutouts (T-1st), a 2.62 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. His performance led to a 22nd overall finish in Yahoo. He'll likely be selected at the end or right outside the first round of fantasy drafts with the potential to finish as the best goaltender in the NHL.
Victor Hedman, D (27) -- The 2018 Norris Trophy winner finished fifth among NHL defensemen with 63 points (17 goals, 46 assists) in 77 games. He also finished fifth at the position with 26 PPP and was second in plus/minus (plus-32). Hedman produced in all situations, playing 25:51 per game (fifth in NHL). He should be one of the first defensemen off the board given the likelihood to finish among the top three at the position.
Brayden Point, C** (90) -- The 22-year-old was the focal point of Tampa Bay's secondary scoring with 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games. He finished 78th overall in Yahoo and has a similar, if not higher, ceiling this season with the Lightning's deep offense (led the NHL with 290 goals last season). Point may benefit from a healthy Ondrej Palat, who missed 26 games last season, and will likely play with the second-line center at even strength and on the second power-play unit. It's worth noting that Point led all Lightning forwards with 18:45 of ice time per game during the playoffs and finished tied for second in points with Stamkos (16) behind Kucherov (17) in 17 postseason games.
Video: TBL@WSH, Gm4: Point finishes pretty passing play
Mikhail Sergachev, D (125) -- The rookie made an immediate impact, finishing 30th among NHL defensemen with 40 points (nine goals, 31 assists) in 79 games. His point total is impressive considering he played 15:22 per game and was a healthy scratch multiple times. Sergachev has the talent to be fantasy relevant for a second straight season, but it's unknown what his role will be after the Lightning signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract July 1. Regardless, Sergachev remains Tampa Bay's clear No. 2 defensemen from a fantasy standpoint and should be drafted in later rounds.
J.T. Miller, C/RW (133) -- He integrated nicely on the top line with 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 19 games after being acquired in a trade from the New York Rangers on Feb. 26, but his near point per game pace fell to 0.47 in the playoffs. Despite the drop off in production, Miller will likely keep his exposure to Kucherov and Stamkos at even strength, making him worthy of a late-round flier. The Lightning had five forwards with at least 50 points last season and should have the same or more in 2018-19.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Yanni Gourde, C/RW* (161); Ondrej Palat, LW (207); Ryan McDonagh, D (213); Tyler Johnson, C/RW (217)
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent
INJ. -- Injury concern entering 2018-19