Predicting the Statistical Leaders for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014-15
Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves near the top of the NHL in a variety of statistical categories. With a healthy roster, the Bolts could see a completely new list of names lead them to new heights on the scoreboard.
The upcoming season will have a lot of turnover among the Lightning's statistical leaders. Steven Stamkos is one of the league's best goal scorers, but he finished four goals behind the team leader (Martin St. Louis) after missing a few months with a broken leg.
Surprisingly, defenseman Victor Hedman led the team in assists with 42. Ondrej Palat finished second with 36, but that could change in the upcoming campaign.
With so many weapons offensively, the Lightning will look to increase production in every category. As preseason nears, here are the predictions for the Lightning's 2014-15 statistical leaders.
Steven Stamkos has been on the watch list for the Rocket Richard Trophy since he came into the league. With his outstanding one-timer and booming shot, Stamkos has quickly made a mark as one of the league's best goal scorers.
In his second season, Stammer netted 51 goals. Two years later, he fired an eye-popping 60 goals. Shortened seasons have kept numbers down the last two years, but 2014-15 could be a return to elite-level scoring.
Helping him lead: He's healthy again. Jonathan Drouin will create more open ice. The Lightning have more weapons offensively. It's just in his nature to score goals.
What might hinder production: The loss of Martin St. Louis' outstanding passing. Poor chemistry with linemates in the early season.
Final Tally: 48
Stamkos averages 39 goals per season, including the lockout-shortened campaign and last year's injury-shortened season. He averages .57 goals per game. In a full 82-game season, that's 47 goals. He should beat that mark.
Last year's assists leader was Victor Hedman. Hedman is a gifted offensive blueliner. He notched 42 assists, which was six more than any forward on the team. Ondrej Palat finished second, followed by Valtteri Filppula.
With the addition of Drouin and the rest of the top-six forward spots up for grabs, it will be a battle between Hedman and Stamkos' linemate for the top assist spot. Drouin is a favorite to line up next to Stamkos, which will increase his production in his first season.
Helping him lead: A healthy Stamkos. Drouin is a rookie, so opponents will spend the first few months learning how to defend him.
What might hinder production: He is still a rookie. Drouin might not be a top-line forward.
Final Tally: 42
Hedman led the team last year with 42 helpers. Expect Hedman to add more goals and less assists as other forwards step up into a passing role. The wild card for this statistic will be the power play.
Alex Ovechkin doesn't care much for plus/minus rating. No, it's not a perfect statistic, but the rating is a great statistic to complement an all-around player's game.
Ondrej Palat put on a clinic last season with 59 points and a plus-32 rating. He was nine points higher than Tyler Johnson, which is impressive for both rookies. Tampa Bay was seventh in the league in five-on-five production last season.
Palat should be a top-six forward again next year outside of either Stamkos or Filppula. Both are strong two-way centers and have played well with Palat recently.
Helping him lead: Palat had an outstanding rookie season last year. He played a complete game and will benefit from the addition of veterans like Brendan Morrow. Palat can't go wrong with his linemates, as Stamkos and Filppula are both strong two-way centers.
What might hinder production: The dreaded sophomore slump.
Final Tally: Plus-28
There probably won't be much of a battle at the top of the penalty minute count. Radko Gudas finished last year with 152 PIMs. Second on the team was B.J. Crombeen with 79, and Ryan Malone followed that up with 67.
Gudas finished sixth in the NHL in penalty minutes, including four total misconducts. The physical defenseman will look to keep his edge this season, as the Lightning lost some physicality in the offseason.
Helping him lead: Gudas likes to hit people. He's also a solid agitator and has embraced the role of protecting the Lightning's offensive stars.
What might hinder production: Decreased minutes potentially as a third-pair defenseman.
Final Tally: 130
No one on the team will even challenge Gudas for this title. The Lightning should hope for a decrease from his 41 minor penalties last year, but the physical presence will be key. He might even get to fight more without Crombeen and Malone on the roster.
The only player to really challenge Stamkos' production on an annual basis is Martin St. Louis. With St. Louis in New York, it looks like Stamkos will have a clear path to the top of the Lightning scoresheet.
There could be a few contenders, including Palat, Johnson and even Drouin, but it would take an outstanding performance to dethrone Stammer.
Stamkos led the team in points in 2011-12 and in 2009-10. He will be hungry after missing a significant amount of time last season and might see an increase in production if he can jell with his linemates.
Helping him lead: There is no one with a better shot in the NHL. Stamkos will be able to load up and fire throughout the season, as the Lightning will roll out a dynamic offensive attack.
What might hinder production: Much like in his goal total, chemistry with his linemates will be key.
Final Tally: 90
If Stamkos nets 48 goals, a 42-assist season isn't out of the question. Stammer hasn't hit the 42-assist mark since 2010-11 when he hit a career-high 46. A 90-point season would be the third time in his career and the first since his career-high 97 in 2011-12.
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