Bolts Sign Blujus

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Dylan Blujus to a three-year entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Blujus, 20, skated in 55 games with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 season, collecting four goals and 30 points to go along with 56 penalty minutes. He led all Battalion defensemen for assists with 26. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman also skated in 22 playoff games for North Bay, posting four goals and 10 points. Blujus led all North Bay defensemen for playoff goals, with three of his four tallies coming on the man-advantage. He helped guide the Battalion to the OHL Championships against the Guelph Storm.

The Buffalo, New York native has played in 256 career OHL games over four seasons with Brampton and North Bay, amassing 17 goals and 119 points. He recorded a career-best plus-12 rating in 2013-14.

Blujus was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 40th overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft.

BP Notes:

Blujus had a solid season for North Bay as a leader for the Battalion. His offensive numbers rose and he was a big part of North Bay's run to the OHL finals. Blujus has always been a fine defensive prospect - and a coveted righty. He will be a fine addition to the Syracuse or ECHL Florida bluelines next year. His strengths are his size, skating, and overall hockey IQ, especially defensively. Taken 40th overall, however, we believe the Lightning had visions of a top-4 blueliner someday capable of 30 points at the NHL level. After all, he was 10 picks away from being a first rounder. His offense didn't develop as expected last season, which is when many prospects make their move against competition that averages the same age or older. Against mostly younger competition on average, he did well this season earning him a contract.

He's a wait-and-see prospect as he could still provide the offense expected from a top-40 pick, but the good news is his floor is also high. He has the skating and smarts to play a bottom pair role in the NHL should the opportunity open up for him. He provides quality depth to the organization.

Time-wise, he's at least two more seasons away from making his move to the NHL, and possibly three or four. Step 1 is get drafted, Step 2 is a contract, and Step 3 is successfully making the transition from junior to minor pro. He should transition smoothly, though it may not be seen until the end of next season. Syracuse looks to have a crowded blueline next October and he could fall to the Everblades should he not earn a spot with Syracuse right away. By the end of his contract, Blujus should be a big part of the Crunch's core group of players with the NHL in his sights.

We rank Blujus No. 16 among Lightning prospects.