With all of that scoring, the Lightning will certainly be a popular team to pick from in this year's hockey pool draft and for good reason. This team has an excessive amount of finishing talent in their top six, their blueline can move the puck out of their own zone in a flash and they now have a Vezina Trophy candidate in net to back them all up.
Tampa has a lot of the right tools in place and they are going to match up really well with all the top teams in the league, west and east, so don't be surprised if their top talent goes even a little higher than it probably should in some cases. The expectations of this team are going to be very high and if there was a team that could deliver in this 82-game regular season, I would have to think it is this one.
Thankfully, most regular season pools don't bleed into the playoffs though, right?
Table last updated on August 12th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
One to watch in this year's rookie scoring race will be forward Anthony Cirelli of the Lightning. He made a pretty big impact upon his arrival late in the 2018 season, picking up 11 points in 18 games. He's a hard-working and tenacious forward, who seems to have a pretty good nose for the net.
With some players being moved out of town through free agency, there should be a few spots available in training camp for a kid like Cirelli to really make a name for himself in the lineup. I'm looking for him to have an impact right away and really turn some heads.
First Round Picks
If there is any team destined to repeat some excellent performances between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning. I think their top three players have the wherewithal to get the job done, if not exceed some expectations. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are all poised to have some good seasons, in my eye, and they'll really get the ball rolling at the draft, I'm sure.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Lightning's depth is also very impressive, starting with Brayden Point, J.T. Miller, Tyler Johnson, sophomore Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn, The Lightning could very well be the team to beat in the east, but more importantly, they could be the key to a boatload of points for our hockey pool teams, so you might want to invest well in this side, if you can.
Other Pool Worthy Defensemen
On the blueline, it is equally impressive, as Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Mikhail Sergachev are all capable of not only eating up minutes, but getting good touches on the puck, making good first passes and getting the offense on their way, earning those counter-attack assists.
26-year old Louis Domingue is now the leading candidate to take the number two job in Tampa Bay, but Vasilevskiy is expected to take a lot of starts, which should limit just how much Domingue can do. I don't think he's a viable option for the hockey pool, but he could be a decent number two for the Lightning, giving their number one a rest, every now and again.
Team to Pick From Late?
The Lightning will be an offensive dynamo, up and down their lineup, so they could be a very good bet to possibly create some sleeper picks that I haven't even mentioned yet. Anton Stralman being the best bet to lift up into the conversation.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
After some bonus money carrying over into this year and a buyout on the books, I have the Lightning in with a 23-man roster and $2.75 million in cap space remaining. The Lightning don't have anything left to do, free agent-wise, so they should be ready to go into camp with a roster that closely resembles what we have up top.
If Ryan Callahan could ever stay healthy, he could have been a pretty good guy to have most years, but sadly, that hasn't been the case. He will be starting the season on the shelf after off-season shoulder surgery and that should not have him back until November. The 33-year old has been battling injury his entire career, so he probably doesn't add up to be a good option anyways.