Bolt Prospects 2010-2011 Supplemental Rankings
Now that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is over, Bolt Prospects is issuing its 2011 Supplemental Rankings. The rankings add the 2011 draft picks, subtract prospects who did not receive qualifying offers from the club, and reflect some slight adjustments in the rankings based on changes in the depth chart. The remainder of this story includes the placement of the 2011 draft picks. For a full look at our Top-25 Rankings, please take a look at our Prospects page.
4.) C Vladislav Namestnikov, London (OHL)
The Lightning's top pick in the 2011 starts in our rankings at the #4 position behind the trio of bluechip right wing prospects: Brett Connolly, Carter Ashton, and Richard Panik. Namestnikov blends the slick skill set of the typical Russian born prospect with the harder edge, pesky style of North American hockey. We like his savvy with the puck, although the tendency to overhandle may need to be coached out of him still, and we like his courage along the wall and in high traffic areas. For those reasons, we think he could still stick in the NHL even if he doesn't become a scoring line player. Our hesitation, though, comes from his slight build and his lack of high end quickness. Namestnikov's an above average skater overall, but at around 170 pounds and with a penchant for crawling under the opponent's skin, we'd like him to develop the quick acceleration and survival instincts to slip away from those he angers with his abrasive style. He's been compared to Winnipeg forward Bryan Little, but we see more potential for Namestnikov to contribute at both ends of the ice and in the physical game than Little does.
6.) RW Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr. (RUS)
Checking in at #6, one spot behind Goaltender-of-the-Future Dustin Tokarski and one spot ahead of The Stealth Prospect (tm), Bolt Prospects favorite Alex Killorn, is slick sniper Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov's upside might be as high as any prospect in the organization, as shown by his mind-boggling stats in winning the scoring title at the U18 World Junior Championships this season. Put simply, he has skills to pay the bills: great speed and acceleration, a lethal shot, crafty playmaking abilities, and the handles you'd expect from a top flight Russian prospect. He's been compared to Nashville forward Sergei Kostitsyn, but three questions cloud Kucherov's future. First, will he resist the allure of the KHL and come over to North America and have the patience to stick with it if things don't click right away? Second, at under 170 pounds and in an environment in Russian hockey that doesn't necessarily emphasize weight training, can he gain the size and strength to play North American hockey? And, third, even if he gains that bulk, will he show the willingness to consistently play like he did at the U18 World Junior Championships where he showed the courage to play in traffic and to share the puck with his linemates?
16.) D Nikita Nesterov, Chelyabinsk Jr. (RUS)
Checking in at #16, amongst a group of defenseman prospects that includes Adam Janosik, Charles Landry, and Geoffrey Schemitsch is two-way blueline prospect Nikita Nesterov. Nesterov is a solid skater who plays with some edge, like a North American blueliner, who was a key performer on the top two pairings for Russia at the U18 World Junior Championships. We worry a bit about his modest size, which isn't offset by elite skating burst, and his equally modest offensive numbers in the MHL, Russia's junior league. But, on the other hand, we like that he is expected to join Tri-City of the WHL next season. We suspect the North American experience he'll gain could close an awful lot of the holes in his game, and getting any Russian over to North America is half of the battle.
19.) C Matthew Peca, Pembroke (CCHL)
Cracking our top-20, just one spot behind fellow smallish forward Alex Hutchings is Matthew Peca from Pembroke of the Canadian Tier 1 Junior A league. Peca is tiny at 5'9" and under 170 pounds. But, what he lacks in size, he's compensated for in heart. It's not a surprise he plays just like former Lightning draft pick Sheldon Keefe, who coached him last season with the Lumber Kings. Keefe, who was second in a Lightning lineage that started with Darcy Tucker and continued through to Steve Downie today, was a feisty, courageous forechecker known for his on-ice relentlessness that bordered on recklessness. Peca's cut from the same cloth, except with a level of speed and skill that may well exceed what Keefe had. He's also more versatile, with the ability to drop back on the point on the power play and also a penchant for shot blocking on the penalty kill. He's teeny tiny, like Pittsburgh's Chris Conner, but we really like that he'll have 4 years with loads of ice time at Quinnipiac University where he'll be in an NCAA team's weight training program. It's a perfect situation for the mighty mite to gain experience and bulk for the pro game.
21.) LW Ondrej Palat, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Adding depth to the organization at #21 is Drummondville overager Ondrej Palat, who will be looking to make the Norfolk Admirals' roster in the Fall. Palat, 20, formed a dynamic duo this year with lottery pick Sean Couturier, finishing tied with his teammate for 4th in the QMJHL with 96 points. He's gained a ton of experience from his time in Vitkovice's junior program in his native Czech Republic and with the national junior team, and he showed tremendous improvement in his 2 seasons in the QMJHL. That said, we're a little terrified that at 20 years old he's still around 175 pounds. It's not just that he can have a tendency to stick to the perimeter, it's that he's so slightly built that he may not be able to survive even if he wants to go to the high traffic areas. Still, he adds to the weaponry that will be on display next year in Norfolk with the QMJHL's leading scorer, P.M. Devos, under an AHL contract and the WHL's runner-up for the scoring title, Tyler Johnson, both joining Palat in the Ads' rookie class.
22.) G Adam Wilcox, Green Bay (USHL)
The final 2011 draft pick in our rankings is Minnesota native Adam Wilcox from Green Bay of the USHL. The 2011 draft class was bleak at the goaltender position, but the Lightning desperately needed to add organization depth at the position so they took a flyer on the touted but unproven Wilcox. Two years ago he was almost universally recognized as the best high school goaltender in the state of Minnesota, but he sat on the bench quite a bit for Green Bay this past year. He's received glowing marks when he has gotten the opportunity to play, though, and we were heartened to hear he'll be the starter in Green Bay next season rather than sitting on the bench at the University of Minnesota, where he'll start his freshman season in 2012-2013. Wilcox is very athletic and aggressive in cutting down his angles. What he desperately needs is experience, and he should be in a good spot to pick up that experience next season.