Hey guys! Sven back with 31 in 31 and my analysis of the Tampa Bay Lightning! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material!  Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.

Forwards

Nikita Kucherov – 80GP 39-61-100. Crosby or Kucherov? Honestly, I’m glad I haven’t had a high pick in a draft yet and have had to make this decision. Kucherov is bound to have another fantastic season within one of the league’s best offences. He will likely go second or third in the majority of leagues.

Steven Stamkos – 78GP 27-59-86. The whole injury bug worry is overplayed with Stammer in my opinion, and he had a fantastic bounce-back year after playing just 17 games the year prior. With his goal total likely to improve, Stamkos is a no-brainer in the second round.

Brayden Point – 82GP 32-34-66. No Sophomore Slump here! Point enjoyed a nice boost in points from his rookie season, and has established himself as Tampa’s #2C. #74 among ESPN’s rankings is fair seeing as we don’t have a huge sample size on him just yet, but I would be happy getting him this early in my draft. Likely to receive PP#1 time, Point will likely pick up where he left off last season but I think 65-70 points is a reasonable expectation.

J.T. Miller – 82GP 23-35-58. After chipping in a respectable 40 points in 63 games with the Rangers last season, Miller was traded to Tampa in the McDonagh deal and was immediately bumped onto Tampa’s #1 line. As a result, Miller was able to produce nearly a PPG down the stretch (18 in 19). With a mid-teens ranking, Miller is a legitimate sleeper if he continues to play #1LW with Stamkos and Kucherov. I expect the 2011 first-rounder to experience a nice points boost having a full 82 games with the Bolts.

Yanni Gourde – 82GP 25-39-64. Gourde’s first full NHL season was certainly impressive, but we always have to be aware of the potential for a Sophomore Slump. Even in one of the league’s most powerful offences, Gourde is not guaranteed to reach 60 points again. That being said, he has a top-six role for the time being and will hopefully to thrive playing on Point’s wing. A repeat performance is very possible, just always be mindful of the Sophomore Slump!

Ondrej Palat – 56GP 11-24-35. Palat is the first of three Tampa forwards that will likely be taken in leagues solely because people know Tampa will score a ton of goals this season. With an off-season last year due to injury, Palat will look to maintain a top-six role and hopefully bounce back while playing on Point’s wing. He is ranked astronomically low by ESPN as a guy that can easily hit 50 points this year, so maybe take a look at him late in your draft.

Alex Killorn – 82GP 15-32-47. Now at 29 years old, what you see is what you get with Killorn – 40-45 points and a chunk of PP time. I personally wouldn’t draft him as the scoring can only be spread out so much when Stamkos and Kucherov both have an 80-point floor.

Tyler Johnson – 81GP 21-29-50. I’m sure after all of Pierre McGuire’s praise in the 2015 Tampa playoff run, you now know that Johnson went undrafted. That being said, the days are likely gone of him putting up big-time points. That being said, a cool 50 points wouldn’t be bad late-draft or in large leagues, but much like Killorn I would stay away.

Defence

Victor Hedman – 77GP 17-46-63. The elite Swedish star’s numbers dipped marginally from two seasons ago to last season, however I still consider Hedman top three in the league among defencemen. I tend to stay away from taking a D in the first three rounds, but Hedman is a guy you just can’t pass up on sometimes.

Mikhail Sergachev – 79GP 9-31-40. Sergachev burst onto the scene last season, putting together a great rookie campaign after being traded for Jonathan Drouin. I always say beware the Sophomore Slump. However, with the amount of upside Serg possesses, coupled with Tampa’s offensive output, and once you throw in his stupidly low ranking by ESPN how could you not take this guy!? He will be on my radar heading into my drafts.

Ryan McDonagh – 64GP 4-25-29. Though McDonagh has been a stud in the past for the Rangers, I just don’t see him getting enough quality opportunity with Tampa to be able to put up points this season. Though top-four minutes is pretty well a guarantee, the PP time will not be there unless Hedman/Serg get injured.

Goalie

Andrei Vasilevskiy – 65GP 2.62.GAA 920SV%. 24 years old, great numbers, and a scary team in front of him are all factors making Vasilevskiy pretty much the consensus #1G. I don’t usually take goalies this early, but he is a no-brainer if you’re looking to build from the back-end-out.

Rookies/Prospects

Anthony Cirelli – 18GP 5-6-11. With a good stint with the Bolts down the stretch and #3C minutes this season, Cirelli is one of my favourite rookie-eligible players heading into this season. Though the same concern I had for Johnson/Killorn is there with the 2015 third-rounder, it makes sense for a rookie to have this sort of role and I wouldn’t expect much more playing on an excellent team. Expect a respectable, but no overwhelming rookie year.

Cal Foote – WHL 60GP 19-51-70. Adam Foote’s son was Tampa’s 2017 first-rounder and he will graduate from Kelowna (WHL) to play in Syracuse (AHL) this season. With great size and consistently sound two-way play, Foote will likely be stashed in the minors with Girardi, Stralman and Coburn all on contract years. I am almost certain they will make room for him next season, but for the time being a transition year won’t hurt him.

Mathieu Joseph – 70GP 15-38-53. After a very good rookie season in the AHL, Joseph is now the rookie front-runner to crack Tampa’s bottom-six this season. A 2015 fourth-rounder, his blazing speed was on full display most notably at the 2017 WJC for Team Canada, and he looks to be able to provide some big energy alongside Paquette and Callahan this season.

Mitchell Stephens – AHL: 70GP 19-22-41. With a solid major-junior career now behind him, Stephens had a respectable first AHL season and will likely compete for a roster spot with Tampa this year. As this fourth line role will likely be highly contested, expect Stephens to receive another year of development with Syracuse. The 2015 second-round speed demon needed some time to find his footing in major-junior before becoming a PPG player, so the Lightning are likely hoping for a similar progression this year.

Boris Katchouk – OHL: 58GP 42-43-85. I still remember having my Peewee team get lit up for four goals by Katchouk like it was yesterday. The 2016 second-rounder is a strong fast forward that is coming off an impressive season with Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). Likely to end up in the AHL this season, the Lightning are probably fine with being patient with Katchouk and other prospects given the current look of their big club. A transition year never hurts, and hopefully he can continue producing like he did in major-junior.

Taylor Raddysh – OHL: 58GP 33-50-83. Though suffering a regression from two seasons ago to last season (likely due to the departure of Strome from Erie), Raddysh is still a very attractive prospect for the Bolts. I was surprised the 2016 second-rounder wasn’t worked into the McDonagh deal, as he will be limited to either a big fish small pond season or a transition year with Syracuse. Perhaps he and Katchouk will find some chemistry in the minors after being Sault Ste. Marie teammates and WJC teammates.

Alexey Lipanov – OHL: 55GP 14-25-39. Two years after being drafted by the Barrie Colts in the CHL Import Draft, Lipanov has fast-tracked his way to the AHL. Drafted in the third round in 2017, Lipanov is another exciting prospect in Tampa’s system and brings a physical edge along with some great tenacity. I’m hoping we have the chance to see him at the WJC this season so I can get a better feel of what his offensive capabilities are.

Otto Somppi – QMJHL: 59GP 28-55-83. Somppi is a 2016 seventh-round pick that the Lightning have signed to play in the AHL after a great season with Halifax in the Q. Somppi is a crafty centreman that will need some time to adjust to the Pros, but will hopefully thrive given his compete level and acceleration.

Alex Barre-Boulet – QMJHL: 65GP 53-63-116. Signed out of major-junior after a monster year, Barre-Boulet will hopefully pick up where he left off in Syracuse. Though he is a little lacking in size, he has admittedly modeled his game around Yanni Gourde recently. Given the amazing pipeline the Bolts currently have up front, Barre-Boulet will be given all the time he needs to develop before competing for a roster spot.