For the second year in a row we welcome WB Philp from Lightning Shout and Hockey Independent as our Lightning expert. WB is all smiles with the new look Lightning and he was more than happy to take us through his team and tell us some guys that might help and hurt our fantasy team.
We asked WB nine fantasy relevant questions about the Lightning and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
To see the rest of our Blogger's Breakouts click here for the main page.
Q1) Lightning Breakout of the Year?
Victor Hedman. The 19 year old Swede admittedly was lost for most of his 74 games last season: "Sometimes I just closed my eyes and pretended it wasn't me." He had never played more than 44 games in a season prior to last year.
Despite his confused state he finished seventh among rookie defensemen with four goals and 20 points. His 79 penalty minutes led all defensive rookies and he averaged 20:50 of ice time. The Bolts had a bunch of weak sisters playing defense last season and Hedman found himself thrown into a much larger role than he was ready for.
Hedman is a giant of a young man at 6'6" and 230 lbs. He has soft hands and skates like a gazelle, always looking to join the rush. In short, he has unlimited potential. All he needs is NHL experience and he will be a top blue liner for many years.
Look for the former second overall pick to have a breakout season for the Bolts. The Lightning blue line is much improved and Hedman will be eased into a top two role. He is more comfortable and he now knows what it takes both physically and mentally to get through an NHL season. He will eventually quarterback the Bolts high flying power play with the likes of Lecavalier, St. Louis, Gagne and Kubina.
Prediction: 80 games, 12 goals, 30 assists, 42 points, 92 penalty minutes and 20:00 average time on ice.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Lightning?
Teddy Purcell. Purcell is a lanky (6'2", 195 lbs.) forward blessed with great hands and is a play maker. He proved last season that he is willing to do some dirty work in the corners. He is an amazing puck handler with good ice awareness. He has a wicked wrist shot with a blinding release.
Last season he potted three goals and six assists in 19 games for the Bolts. Look for him to skate on the third line, but he has top six talent.
Prediction: 77 games, 15 goals, 35 assists, 50 points and 36 penalty minutes.
Q3) Breakdown Player on the Lightning?
Steve Downie. Last season was a breakout season for the talented head case. 22goals, 24 assists and 205 penalty minutes made him a valuable fantasy player. Playing alongside Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos will do that for you. Downie may have a hard time adjusting to new coach Guy Boucher’s new 1-3-1 system. Ultimately, I see him being a third line skater for the Bolts. While he still is a valuable NHL player, I look for his offensive numbers to diminish considerably.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Matt Duchene. Last season during his impressive rookie campaign, Duchene netted 24 goals and added 31 assists in 81 games for the Avalanche. His speed, checking ability, soft hands and ability in the clutch reminds me of Steve Yzerman. After a year of maturation he is ready to bust out big.
Prediction: 80 games, 38 goals, 39 assists, 77 points and 58 penalty minutes.
Q5) Who are your First Five Picks in a Fantasy Draft?
Ovechkin, Crosby, Backstrom, Stamkos and H.Sedin
Q6) Best Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
Jaroslav Halak. While most owners will spend $15 - $35 drafting Ryan Miller, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist. Martin Brodeur and Jimmy Howard, you should set your sites on new St. Louis goaltender Halak. You will probably be able to get him for around $8. Halak will be playing behind a Blues defense corps that is strong. This will be your only chance to get this number one netminder at this low price.
Prediction: 29 wins, 2.39 GAA and a .920 save %.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
Q8) Your Stanley Cup Pick?
The Detroit Red Wings. For the first time in a long time they are flying under the radar and that is going to help them. Their youngsters like Helm, Abdelkader and Howard are maturing quickly under the tutelage of veteran players like Nicklas Lidstrom and a wealth of coaching experience.
Mike Smith. I wouldn't draft either one, but if you have to... take Smith. The Bolts have a lot of money wrapped up in him and he is playing for a contract. He'll be given every chance to be the number one. An improved defense and a high scoring offensive unit will bode well for both Lightning goaltenders.
Many thanks to WB Philp, great job. You can tell he put a lot of time and effort in and it's much appreciated. If you enjoyed this BB makes sure you check out his work at both Lightning Shout and Hockey Independent.