Bolt Prospects 2009 NHL Entry Draft Supplemental Rankings

With two weeks now passed since a very successful 2009 NHL Entry Draft and an equally successful Young Guns prospect camp, Bolt Prospects has released a supplemental update to its 2008-2009 Final Rankings. The rankings primarily reflect the addition of the team's recent draftees, as well as recent contractual moves by the team and its prospects. As always, the following rules determine which prospects are eligible for the rankings: any skater under the age of 24 on opening night of the 2008-2009 season with fewer than 41 NHL games in a single season or 82 career NHL games is considered a prospect by our site's criteria. For goaltenders, any netminder with less than 30 NHL decisions in a single season or less than 41 career NHL decisions is considered a prospect. NCAA prospects are exempt from the 24 years of age rule up until one year after their graduation. With the legal disclaimers out of the way, here are the rankings:

1.) D Victor Hedman, MODO (SWE)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Tampa Bay (NHL)

Hedman becomes the fifth player in Bolt Prospects' four full seasons of operation to hold down the number one spot in the rankings. It was a no-brainer, considering Hedman is likely the most talented defenseman the team has ever drafted and looks like a lock to be a number one defenseman in the NHL. The question is not whether Victor will be a good player, but rather whether he can reach his maximum potential and become a great player. We expect Hedman to start on the third pair with Tampa Bay this season and hopefully move into the club's top four by the end of the season.

2.) D Matt Lashoff, Tampa Bay (NHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Tampa Bay (NHL)

Matt Lashoff moves down a spot to make way for Hedman on the rankings. We still love Lashoff's skating ability and puck skills, but we are admittedly worried he may be a victim of the numbers game with so many defensemen currently under contract with the team. If he stays with the Lightning, Lashoff is capable of putting up a 30 point season next year. Lashoff is waiver eligible and likely can't be sent to Norfolk of the AHL without being taken by another team.

3.) RW Steve Downie, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Tampa Bay (NHL)

Bolt Prospects is down on Downie after his suspension for slashing an official that cost him the final month of his season. The expectation is that he will do something else stupid over the course of the coming season. If he keeps his head, though, there's an open spot on Vincent Lecavalier's line that's begging for a speedy playmaker like Downie to fill it.

4.) D Ty Wishart, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

We still have no doubts Wishart is going to be an NHL defenseman. He's incredibly calm in his own end and should have a long career as a shutdown defender in the league. This is an important season coming up, though, because Wishart needs to show the offensive upside he didn't display in his rookie year with Norfolk last season.

5.) RW Carter Ashton, Lethbridge (WHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Lethbridge (WHL)

We see Carter as a power forward project who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. He potted 30 goals last season with Lethbridge playing a very simple meat and potatoes style of game. This year, we expect him to go back to junior and start to add some spice to the menu. If he can develop his playmaking skills and learn to use his big shot more on the power play and from the top of the circles, he could be a special type of player.

6.) RW Richard Panik, Trinec (CZE)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Windsor (OHL)

Remember Bob Boughner? He may soon become the Lightning's best friend if he can get Richard Panik to straighten up and play to his potential as a Marian Hossa type forward. At this time last year Panik was considered the 7th best prospect in his draft class by THN, but a year marred by questions about his attitude, poor conditioning, and injuries dropped Panik down to a late second round pick. It could be the Lightning's gain, though, if Boughner, who is the Head Coach of Windsor of the OHL, can get his Slovakian import to play honest all-around hockey for one of the CHL's premier junior clubs.

7.) LW/C Dana Tyrell, Prince George (WHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Great news: Tyrell's season ending knee surgery didn't affect his world class speed and acceleration. In fact, the Lightning's coaching staff believes that the rehab following the surgery forced Tyrell to condition his body like a pro and he may be in better condition to start pro hockey now than he would've been if he hadn't gotten hurt. Tyrell is going to be counted on right away to provide spark and offense to a Norfolk club in desperate need of those qualities.

8.) LW Johan Harju, Lulea (SWE)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

Harju bolted to Russia for a cool, tax free payday of roughly $1 million dollars. However, GM Brian Lawton has already stated the team will make it a priority to sign Harju next offseason and Harju still says the NHL is his life's dream. Had he come over this season, we suspect he'd have made the club easily. As it is, he's still a pure sniper who is probably the most NHL ready of all the team's forward prospects not named Downie or Szczechura.

9.) G Dustin Tokarski, Spokane (WHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

The Lightning love Dustin Tokarski. Bolt Prospects loves Dustin Tokarski. In fact, some on our staff think Tokarski can become Norfolk's starting goaltender by Christmas, despite being a rookie to the pro game.

10.) G Riku Helenius, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Helenius will start the year as the starting netminder for Norfolk in the AHL, but will be pushed hard for Tokarski. Here's hoping that Tick can help bring out the best in Helenius, who currently sits as the Lightning's number three netminder on the depth chart, which means he'll likely see at least a couple of games of action with the big club this season.

11.) LW Alex Hutchings, Barie (OHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Barie (OHL)

We're still deciding whether to adopt Hutchings or Johan Harju as Bolt Prospects official mascot this season. What we are certain of, though, is that the Lightning committed grand theft larceny in picking off Hutchings in the fourth round of the draft. We expect Hutchings to be one of the OHL's leading scorers this season, and that a lot of teams are going to be kicking themselves repeatedly for passing on the diminutive sparkplug. Hutchings has drawn comparisons to Mike Richards, Brian Gionta, Chris Kunitz, and Chuck Kobasew. Common denominator: all good NHL players.

12.) C Paul Szczechura, Tampa Bay (NHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Tampa Bay (NHL)

We're not sure which Paul Szczechura we're going to get this coming season, so we're putting the undrafted gem at twelve on the rankings. When he's healthy and in shape, Szczechura brings speed and offensive spark to the Lightning's lower lines. When he's dinged and out of shape, he's not so much. We want the good Szczechura.

13.) C Mitch Fadden, Tri-City (WHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Darren Rumble: you're up. Your mission is to turn Mitch Fadden from a one-dimensional offensive star in junior into a bona fide NHL player. Athletically, Fadden's got the ability. He's got speed, great hands, and great offensive hockey sense. The puck follows him around the offensive zone like he's got a magnet in his pocket. However, it takes more than flash to make the bigs, and Fadden's never shown much concern for competing in the corners or backchecking. That's where Darren Rumble has to be on his A-game this year in Norfolk in making sure that Fadden understands what it takes to make the next step in his career.

14.) RW Martins Karsums, Tampa Bay (NHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Tampa Bay (NHL)

Brian Lawton loves Martins Karsums and thinks the speedy Latvian could be a scoring line option for the Lightning this season. We at Bolt Prospects see shades of Ryan Johnson, only smaller and without the ability to win faceoffs. We'll see who's right in due time.

15.) D Vladimir Mihalik, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Vladimir Mihalik enters his third pro season with one last chance to prove he can be an NHL player. Mihalik floundered last season while the Lightning loaded up on defensive prospects like Matt Lashoff and Ty Wishart. Now, with Victor Hedman in the fold, Mihalik has been pushed so far down the depth chart he's becoming an afterthought in the organization. It's hard to believe, because at 6'7" all Mihalik has to do is play responsible positionally and use his size for leverage and he'll be a shutdown defender in the league. But, Mihalik's positioning has been erratic, his footwork is problemmatic, and he seems deathly allergic of physical contact. Without rapid improvement, he'll soon be another organization's project.

16.) LW/C Alex Killorn, Harvard (ECACHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Harvard (ECACHL)

Lightning fans got a look at The Secret Weapon at the Young Guns camp and he once again showed that he is the stealth prospect in the organization. He's got great speed, great hockey sense, and lots of intangibles that add up to an NHL player. We expect Killorn to play a couple of more seasons for Harvard and then the Lightning will come hot and heavy to sign the best prospect no one talks about.

17.) LW Radek Smolenak, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Nizhnekamsk (RUS)

Radek Smolenak is a dummy. There, we said it. With an abundance of spots open in Tampa Bay and the team in desperate need of a remodeling on its lower lines, Smolenak decided to chase tax free money in Russia instead. He'll be playing in the middle of nowhere for Nizhnekamsk, while the Lightning's newly drafted trio of Carter, Panik, and Hutchings quietly gains experience and passes him on the depth chart. Smart move, big guy. Hope the rubles were worth it.

18.) D Kevin Quick, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Kevin Quick is probably undervalued on our rankings, but we're waiting for one thing to start moving Quick back up the charts: production. There's no denying the upside. Quick's skating is outstanding and when he wants to be, he's assertive and exciting with the puck, but he had just 9 points for Norfolk last season. The opportunity is there for Quick to become a power play fixture in Norfolk. We want to see him seize it.

19.) C/RW Blair Jones, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Jones received a qualifying offer from the Lightning, meaning the big center will likely see his fourth professional season with the organization. With a good camp, he might have a chance to make the team considering Johan Harju and Radek Smolenak's defection to the former USSR. He has good size, a big shot, and he's good on the forecheck when he wants to be. If he ever develops consistency, he can be an NHL player. However, entering his fourth season of pro hockey, he still hasn't put it all together.

20.) LW Luca Cunti, Rimouski (QMJHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Rimouski (QMJHL)

How does a guy with world class wheels go unsigned and fall all the way to twenty on our rankings? Well, that happens if you play the game with less edge than the Snuggle bear, and that's the problem we have with Luca Cunti. His skating is supernatural, and he has great playmaking ability for a guy who was labeled a selfish player prior to being drafted. But, God almighty, it's not badminton. At least lean on someone, Luca!

21.) C James Wright, Vancouver (WHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Vancouver (WHL)

It's a contract year for James Wright. The former first round WHL Bantam Pick hasn't been much more than a role player so far in his junior career. He was moved to a scoring line in the Spokane series last year and responded with good offensive production with Thrasher's pick Evander Kane. With Kane likely in Atlanta this fall, Vancouver is counting on Wright next year. He needs to step up and show more if the Lightning are going to sign him next summer.

22.) RW Juraj Simek, Norfolk (AHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

Simek has good speed and does a little bit of everything reasonably well for Norfolk in the AHL. But, we still wonder if there's enough there to call Simek an NHL prospect as he enters the final year of his entry-level contract.

23.) D Mark Barberio, Moncton (QMJHL)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Moncton (QMJHL)

Like Wright, it's a contract season for Mark Barberio. On shear numbers, you'd think Barberio would be a lock to be signed, but he seems to disappear for long stretches and his defensive game lacks consistency. Barberio needs to chase away those knocks if he's going to be signed next summer.

24.) LW Lauri Tukonen, Rauma (FIN)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Norfolk (AHL)

We still think it likely that Tukonen will find his way to Norfolk this season. The former Kings first round pick was a bust in his first tour of duty in North America. We doubt the second time will be the charm, but we'd be very happy to be proven wrong.

25.) RW/C Matt Marshall, Vermont (HEAST)
Projected 2009-2010 Club: Vermont (HEAST)

Speedster Matt Marshall still holds down the final spot on our rankings despite a strong challege from recent draftees Zador, Janus, and Gotovets. Marshall's got world class speed and, unlike Cunti, he will lay the wood to an opponent in the corners. This will be the first season for Marshall to get significant ice time at the NCAA level, so we'll finally get to see if his speed and work ethic translate to rising in the rankings.