Bolt Prospect of the Week

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for the week ending December 16 is … Jonathan Marchessault, W, Tampa Bay (NHL).

Where would the 2015-2016 Tampa Bay Lightning be without Jonathan Marchessault?

To say injuries have affected the Lightning this year would be as understating as saying a school of rabid sharks with lasers affects where you can swim.

It was so bad this week that the Lightning ran out of enough cap room to recall an extra-extra-extra-extra-extra forward from AHL Syracuse.

It was so bad Syracuse practiced with only seven available forwards, and likely debated signing some of the players from the media street hockey game they played in the summer. (When did PTO contracts cease being an option?)

Tampa Bay is missing Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Cedric Paquette, Joel Vermin, and the scorer formerly known as Steven Stamkos. Oh, and Mattias Ohlund, if you’re still tracking him.

Fortunately, the Yzerplan is working for the Lightning.

Syracuse has been able to supply the big club with enough talent to plug the dam holes and the Lightning are 8-4 in their last 12 games.

Special Christmas cards will be sent to Syracuse, the Yzerplan, and Jonathan Marchessault.

The book on Marchessault has always been he has skill, talent, and drive, but does he have enough strength and consistency to survive at the NHL level?

It’s time to put checks in those categories. Done.

The Lightning are on the brink of falling out of the playoff race, but Marchessault is helping to keep the season alive.

This past week the 5-9 Quebec-native had two goals in two Lightning wins. He also played more than 15 solid minutes in a close loss to Washington.

On Monday in Columbus, Marchessault read an errant pass from a Columbus defenseman and snapped the puck over Joonas Korpisalo’s shoulder for a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead. It was a goal-scorer’s goal, and Marchessault has been just that everywhere he’s been in his career.

He followed that up with a goal Tuesday on Stamkos Night in Toronto, helping the Lightning to a 5-4 overtime win. The 24-year-old, acquired in 2013 from the Columbus organization, logged over 17 minutes of ice time against the Leafs, giving the team valuable minutes normally taken by players who are now crammed onto the injured list.

Marchessault, our latest Bolt Prospect of the Week, has climbed the steep and treacherous developmental hill and is now on the other side; he’s an NHLer. And not a moment too soon for this year’s Lightning.

Preseason BP Rank: 9

Once a perennial minor-league scoring star, Marchessault is a top-9 forward at the NHL level capable of filling in on scoring lines or bringing scoring with responsible play to a checking line. He’s most dangerous in space, but is willing to go to high traffic areas if it means getting a goal or creating a rebound.

Honorable Mention: C/W Yanni Gourde – Tampa Bay (NHL), D Ben Thomas – Vancouver (WHL), C Anthony Cirelli – Oshawa (OHL)

Previous 2015-2016 Prospect of the Week winners:

December 7: Nikita Gusev, W (St. Petersburg, KHL, Russia)
November 30: Matt Spencer, D (Peterborough, OHL, Canada)
November 23: Jonathan Marchessault & Joel Vermin, (Tampa Bay, NHL, USA)
November 16: Brian Hart, W, (Greenville, ECHL, USA)
November 9: Brayden Point, C, (Moose Jaw, WHL, Canada)
November 2: Brayden Point, C, (Moose Jaw, WHL, Canada)
October 26: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Tampa Bay, NHL, USA)
October 19: Ryan Zuhlsdorf, D, (Sioux City, USHL, USA)
October 12: Dennis Yan, W, (Shawinigan, QMJHL, Canada)
October 6: Mitchell Stephens, W, (Saginaw, OHL, Canada)
September 29: Matt Peca, C, (Tampa Bay, NHL, USA)