Prospect of the Week: January 13, 2014

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

The Prospect of the Week for January 13, 2014 is … Kristers Gudlevskis, G, Syracuse Crunch (AHL – USA).

Syracuse goaltender Cedrick Desjardins could find himself in a rare situation. The veteran netminder has been the Crunch’s No. 1 goalie for most of the season, yet he may have just lost his hold on No. 1 after being promoted to the NHL.

In Desjardins’ absence last week, all Gudlevskis did was put on a cape and help earn the Crunch five out of six points. Two of those games were back-to-back shutouts, including a rare shutout shootout loss.

For the week, Gudlevskis posted two wins, a shootout loss, an 0.65 goals against average, and a .973 save percentage.

To top it off, the shutouts came against the high-powered Providence Bruins, who entered their 2-game set against Syracuse as one of the conference’s best teams.

"He shuts out one of the best teams in the league two nights in a row – that's a big deal," Syracuse Coach Rob Zettler told Bolt Prospects.

Like Ron Burgundy, Gudlevskis is kind of a big deal. He was named to Latvia’s Olympic team and is projected to get significant playing time against the best the world has to offer. He was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week this week, as well, and is our Bolt Prospect of the Week.

No word if he has many leather-bound books and has an apartment smelling of rich mahogany. Perhaps the Burgundy comparison ends with the big deal.

It would benefit Gudlevskis and the Lightning if The Yak (courtesy FHM Latvia magazine) took the No. 1 job and ran with it to close the season. Desjardins is an unrestricted free agent at year’s end and Gudlevskis will be back in Syracuse next season, likely sharing time with super-prospect Andrey Vasilevskiy. Nothing furthers development like playing time and hopefully Gudlevskis earns a lot of it. A quality veteran, Desjardins can teach him a lot in the process, too.

We think Gudlevskis has NHL potential, but how much is still to be determined. He has excellent size, reflexes, a cornerback’s approach to the game (short memory), and an aggressive attitude. Time will tell.

Honorable Mention: Adam Erne, W (Quebec, QMJHL), Dylan Blujus, D (North Bay, OHL), @CeddysPads.

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

January 6: Ondrej Palat, LW, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
December 17: Tyler Johnson, C, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
December 10: Ondrej Palat, W, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
December 3: Cedric Paquette, C, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
November 26: Tyler Johnson, C, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
November 19: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).
November 13: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).
November 4: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 29: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 24: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 16: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 9: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 1: Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, (Salavat Yulaev, KHL, Russia).
September 24: Adam Erne, W, Tampa Bay (NHL) and Quebec (QMJHL)