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31 in 31

Tampa Bay Lightning fantasy preview for 2020-21

Vasilevskiy top goalie despite Kucherov injury; Palat brings exposure to Point

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Tampa Bay Lightning. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

[Lightning 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]

 

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G (13) -- He's the clear top-ranked fantasy goalie after leading the NHL in wins (35 in 52 games) last season, the third straight season he's led or tied for first in the category. Vasilevskiy started all 25 postseason games for the Lightning, going 18-7 with an NHL playoff career-high .927 save percentage to lead them to the Stanley Cup. He has been extremely consistent since becoming Tampa Bay's No. 1 goalie in 2016-17 with at least a .917 save percentage in each of the past four regular seasons.

 

Brayden Point, C (18) -- One of the breakout players of the 2020 postseason, Point led the NHL in goals (14 in 23 games), even-strength points (26) and ranked second in scoring (33 points) behind his linemate Nikita Kucherov (34). Point, who has finished among the top 50 overall fantasy players in each of the past two seasons (14th in 2018-19 with an NHL career-high 92 points in 79 games; 45th last season with 64 points in 66 games), loses fantasy appeal from Kucherov (hip) being out for the season. That said, Point will still likely play on the top line with valuable wings Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos and bring elite exposure to defenseman Victor Hedman on the first power-play unit, making Point worth drafting in the second round of a fantasy draft.

Video: 31 in 31: Tampa Bay Lightning 2020-21 season preview

 

Victor Hedman, D (23) -- Even after the Kucherov injury, the Lightning have three players ranked among the fantasy top 25 overall. Hedman, fourth among NHL.com's fantasy defenseman rankings, scored 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 25 postseason games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Hedman, who scored an NHL career-high 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) in 2016-17, was on an 82-game pace for 68 points (55 in 66 games) last season and could take on an even bigger offensive role with Kucherov out and benefit from playing on the same power play as Point and a healthy Stamkos.

 

Steven Stamkos, LW/RW (43) -- He was close to the highest points-per-game average (1.16) of his NHL career (best rate: 1.20 in 2018-19) when healthy last season, scoring 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 games, second on the Lightning behind Kucherov's 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 68 games. Stamkos, who is third among active NHL players in goals per game (0.53) behind Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (0.61) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (0.56), scored a goal in the only postseason game he played in 2020. Stamkos is expected to be ready for the start of the season following his recovery from an injury but comes with some risk if taken in the first four rounds of a fantasy draft.

 

Ondrej Palat, LW (120) -- He finished among the top 75 overall fantasy players last season (67th in standard leagues) with strong coverage of points (41 in 69 games), plus/minus (plus-25) and hits (145). Palat elevated his production in the postseason scoring 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 25 games on the top line with Kucherov and Point in Stamkos' absence. Palat was second on the Lightning in playoff goals behind Point and should be viewed as a top 120 overall player in drafts with a chance to remain on the top line this season. Palat loses fantasy appeal from the injury to Kucherov but is still valuable for category coverage, including hits (145 last season).

 

Other players to consider in later rounds or off waiver wire: Mikhail Sergachev, D (149); Alex Killorn, LW/RW (217); Anthony Cirelli, C (233); Blake Coleman, LW/RW; Yanni Gourde, C/RW

Injury note: Nikita Kucherov (RW) is out for the season because of a hip injury.

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