Stock Watch for Tampa Bay Lightning's Top-6 Forwards
If the Tampa Bay Lightning were on the stock market, shares would be collapsing after reaching a season high two weeks ago. The Bolts have dropped four straight games and been outscored 17-6 in that span, but that can't detract from their current fourth-place spot.
The team effort has been solid, but the top-six forwards have put together some solid early-season performances as well. With Steven Stamkos on the shelf for the foreseeable future, the Lightning have been able to slide new players into that position.
Each top-six forward has an individual stock to keep an eye on. From the point production to defensive awareness, the strongest forward lines have kept the Lightning as one of the top 10 offenses in the league (2.78 goals per game).
Keeping the longer-term impact of Stamkos' injury in mind, here is the stock report for each of the Lightning's top-six forwards.
Martin St. Louis
Stock Watch: Hold
Lightning captain Martin St. Louis might be one of the only people who's not been negatively affected by the loss of Steven Stamkos. St. Louis has found ways to produce at high levels regardless of who centers his line.
Valtteri Filppula and Brett Connolly have slid into the top-line spot to help minimize the impact of the loss of Stammer. Fortunately for anyone on St. Louis's line, he makes everyone around him better. Taking a brief look at the consistency of his career, Marty has scored at least 60 points in each of his last 10 seasons—including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
With 21 points already this season, St. Louis looks to be on track for 75-80 points this year. Even without Stamkos, St. Louis should continue to be solid for the Bolts.
Stock Watch: Buy
Odds are, fans were buying Valtteri Filppula's stock immediately after the first game of the year against Boston. Filppula scored the team's first goal of the season and won nearly 60 percent of his draws. His stock kept climbing through inflated games against Florida, but it has tumbled in recent weeks.
If you were skeptical of Filppula's value through the first month-and-a-half, now is the time to buy. Filppula has struggled in the faceoff circle the last three games, but he is still solid on the draw. He is barely above 50 percent in the circle this season, but there is no reason to believe he won't return to his career average at 51.9 percent.
Points will come, but his real value comes on the defensive end. Filppula will be required to be more of a mentor to the young players on the backcheck, and that will boost his stock significantly.
Stock Watch: Buy
Alex Killorn is one of the brighter players for the Lightning this season. The second-year player will set career highs in nearly every statistical category, but he will do it in impressive fashion this season. Killorn had 19 points in 38 games last season and already has 15 through 23 games this year.
He has the ability to change a game with his shot, physical play, defensive positioning and even his skating. Killorn has found a home on the Lightning's top line and could be there for many years to come.
Playing alongside Martin St. Louis, a healthy Steven Stamkos or another dynamic center has really helped mold Killorn's game. Before the ugly Pacific Division road trip, Killorn was an impressive plus-six through 23 games.
Keep an eye on Killorn moving forward, as he could step into a more prolific scoring role.
Stock Watch: Sell
Teddy Purcell has been a player that has never really found consistency. He had a great opportunity playing on the second line with Filppula and Ryan Malone. But with the injury to Stamkos, Purcell's linemates have shuffled around more than ever before.
All the shuffling has hurt Purcell, and it won't stop soon. Only three of his 12 points have come in the month of November. With injuries continuing to play a part in the Lightning's season, things could get even more difficult for Purcell.
He benefitted early on the power play with Stamkos on the wings, but that has since changed, and as a result, his production has slowed significantly. There's no question that Stamkos' injury has affected Purcell greatly.
Stock Watch: Even
Ryan Malone has never been a big producer. His career high is 51 points (2007-08 with the Pittsburgh Penguins), but Lightning fans have always expected him to up his game. When the Lightning let Vincent Lecavalier go, Malone could have very well been the next to go.
He stayed and has been exactly what critics expected—below average. With nine points this season, Malone has seen some time on the top lines and has been on the fourth line trying to find some way to utilize his 6'4" frame. The problem for the Bolts now might be that he will be difficult to move.
He has two points and is minus-three this month while averaging just over two shots per game. If you were one of the people that wanted him moved in the offseason, then his stock is no surprise to you. If you expected more from the 10-year veteran, then his stock is down, and you should look to sell him for whatever you can get.
Stock Watch: Sell
Despite a solid start to the season with the Lightning's AHL affiliate in Syracuse, J.T. Brown's NHL career took a gigantic leap when Stamkos went down. Brown had 10 points in 13 games with the Crunch to start the season and was one of the initial call-ups when Stammer went down.
The move was debatable with talents like Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin all in the mix. I wasn't sold on Brown's call-up and through his first six games and still haven't seen anything that truly warrants him being a long-term solution.
Brown can fly, but that is about the only game-changing thing about him. With the recent losing streak and the consistent moves in the lineup, I don't expect Brown to be with the big club for much longer this season. It's not that he won't be an answer in the future. He just isn't the man now.
Sell the stock while it is still on the NHL market.
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