Thanks to the fine folks in the Norfolk media relations department and our own Tim Bennett, I'm going to get the opportunity to interview Admirals Head Coach Stirling and Admirals GM/Lightning Assistant GM Claude Loiselle Saturday morning before/after the morning skate.
So, with that in mind, I'm throwing this open to the readers: are there any particular questions you'd like answered about the Admirals or the Lightning prospect system? I'll have the laptop and, supposedly, high speed internet at the hotel so feel free to post your suggestions today, tonight, and all Friday and I'll try to run them by Coach and Claude.
As readers of this site know, we typically release our annual Preliminary Rankings of the Lightning's prospects around the first week of October once Lightning camp breaks. Obviously we haven't done that yet, so I just wanted to give everyone an update on where we are.
It was reported today by gazeta.ru that Ak Bars signed ex-Flyers goaltender Robert Esche. It said that Esche will replace Lightning prospect Vasily Koshechkin, whose contract is likely to bought out by the club.
Gazeta.ru is referred to Ak Bars press-cutting service, but this internet media is known for frequently reporting unproven rumors, so it is early to say that Koshechkin will leave Ak Bars for sure.
To all the Canadians frequenting BP, a hearty Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you and yours.
As a Canadian living in the States, it was always nice to get two Thanksgivings a year. Sadly, those days are now gone.
Mmmmmm.... double turkey.
It's hard not to be excited about the Lightning's 2-0 start, and I just wanted to expand on some thoughts I had after tonight's dominating effort against Atlanta. The big concern I think we all had coming into the year was how Dan Boyle's injury was going to effect the team. Boyle has been the tempo setter for this team ever since he was acquired in the 2001-2002 season, and as one of only two righty shot defensemen in the organization (AHLer David Schneider being the other) his minutes on the power play were going to be very difficult to replace. If you had held a gun to my head and asked me how the team would do over this first month, I probably would've said about .500, maybe a tad below, without Boyle. Now they're 2-0 heading into a two game set against an 0-2 Panthers team with the chance to get off to a really good start. Granted, things can change in a hurry and the team still will probably need to weather at least another three weeks without Danny (and he might not be 100% for a long time even after he returns). However, I can't help starting to think about how if this team gets off to a great first month of the season without Boyle, think how good they'll be when he returns?
We can dissect this thing in comments, but I just want to throw these rankings out as Exhibit A as to why we do things the way we do here at Bolt Prospects. Hockey's Future has a habit of releasing their first rankings either before or during teams' training camps and preseason games and their final rankings before the hockey season finishes. We do the opposite (and do a midseason set of rankings) and the reason we do it should be pretty clear.
For instance, they have Mike Lundin at 14. Now it appears Lundin might have a 50/50 or better shot of making the Lightning's opening night roster. How is that going to reflect on HF's rankings if they have Lundin at 14 when he's in the NHL? That's why we do our rankings in early October after camp and the preseason is over.
It only takes a couple of good weeks of camp, a couple of good preseason games, and one or two injuries for a middle of the pack prospect to dramatically improve their stock and radically alter the landscape of a team's system. And it happens all the time in the NHL.
That is very well what Lundin may be doing right now, and why we're going to wait to see how this plays out before passing any judgements. It's fair. It's prudent. It's the right thing to do. We wish HF's upper management would adopt the same policy. It would improve the quality of their product.
According to numerous published reports it appears the Lightning will be cutting 7 players from their roster after Saturday's preseason game against the Caps. Here's my initial thoughts on the seven who will go (subject to change based on performance in the Washington game, of course):
According to TSN.ca, former Lightning goaltender Sean Burke has retired.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting former Bolt Jassen Cullimore has been invited to the Red Wings' training camp. Cullimore and Nolan Pratt were rumored to be a considerations for the Lightning's No.6/7 defenseman spots before Tampa Bay decided they'd let younger players battle it out. There remains/remained a possibility that Pratt or Cullimore could be signed late in camp if none of the youngsters impressed enough to earn a spot.
Also, Jay Feaster's first draft pick as Lightning GM, Adam Henrich, is camping with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lightning fans who know me know that when it comes to this team's prospects I've been a big booster of the concept of Karri Ramo making it to the NHL sooner rather than later. However, for Ramo to make the team out of camp would be an improbable event because the business side of the game all but precludes it. The Lightning have invested roughly $4 million dollars in the tandem of Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis heading into the 2007-2008 season, and the team learned this summer that Denis is virtually untradable at this point in time after such a poor campaign last season. I won't even attempt to argue for Ramo's promotion to the bigs from a business standpoint, because it doesn't make sense.
But from a hockey standpoint it makes all the sense in the world, and it makes sense on two levels...
Just to throw this out there, on September 21st at 11PM, the UCF Golden Knights will play USF in the season opening game at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland.
It's free for UCF students, 5 dollars for everyone else. If you don't mind being out late and want to watch some hockey, come on out.
For mapquest purposes, the address of RDV is:
8701 Maitland Summit Blvd
Orlando, FL 32810