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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

A whole lotta offense here.

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Thirtieth up are the Tampa Bay Lightning currently in their 26th year in the NHL they are three years removed from the Stanley Cup loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, they have made the playoffs four of the last five years.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 3rd
Goals for Rank: 1st
Goals against Rank: 13th
PP Rank: 3rd
PK Rank: 27th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 2nd
Eastern Conference Standings: 1st
Atlantic Division Standings: 1st

Coach: Jon Cooper (243-143-40 regular season; 36-28 playoffs).

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Six Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images

Overview

I enjoyed digging into the metrics of this team, 1st in goals for and 3rd in power play goals, 3rd in the NHL standings and 13th in goals against and then 27th in penalty kill percentage. Which one of these items is not like the others. At 76.1%, they were behind Buffalo, Vancouver, Arizona and tied with the Senators last year, that is the four worst teams in the league standings wise. Offensively this team is loaded: Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde. Going deeper Cory Conacher, Cedric Paquette, Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli. They had six players with 50 or more points last year. Defensively Victor Hedman is one of the best defensemen in the league, along him Dan Girardi, defensive specialist, Ryan McDonagh (basically the old Rangers squad), Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn, their starting six has four guys aged 29 – 34, plenty of experience. Vezina nominee Andrei Vasilevskiy (who I predicted as a start early last season) had the most starts of his career with 65 finishing last season with 44 wins (1st in the league), a 2.62 GAA (20th in the league) , .920 sv % (13th in the league) and eight shutouts (1st in the league). The goals against and save percentage was in line with his previous season where he started 15 fewer games. Jon Cooper has been a pillar of stability for this group leading both strong regular season and playoff records. This team is largely well rounded, they just need to work on the atrocious penalty kill.

Major Additions

Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Louis Domingue

Major Subtractions

Andrej Sustr, Chris Kunitz, Vladislav Namestikov

Prospects and Picks

  • Cal Foote. Taken 14th overall in 2017, Cal spent most of last season in the WHL putting up 70 points in 60 games. He spent 6 games in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch scoring one goal. Cal has experience in the world juniors with Canada and will be a top four defensemen for them in a year or two when he’s ready to move up.
  • Anthony Cirelli. Drafted 72nd overall in 2015, he had a decent season with the Syracuse Crunch last season posting 14 goals and 37 points across 51 games. He was promoted to the big league scoring 11 points in 18 games filling in for Nikita Kucherov who was hurt. He is on the smaller side but he reads the ice well and can place himself well to disrupt play and really promote offense.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset

  • JT Miller. He joined the team in February of last year through their trade with New York. He proceeded to score 10 goals and 18 points in 19 games including 6 power play points. He is projected to be on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. 75+ points is definitely possible sitting on that line with those two.

Cap Situation

$70MM Spent; $6M in Cap room; 21 players signed; average team age 27.