THN Lightning Top-10: Who Wasn't Even Considered
I finally was told who the top-10 Lightning prospects were in The Hockey News' Future Watch issue. As I explained in my previous entry, whoever made the list several top prospects didn't. And, as a consequence, those players were not even considered by THN's mysterious panel which saw it fit to (erroneously) name the Lightning the worst prospect system in the league. Again, to reiterate, THN's evaluators only look at the top ten prospects in an organization thereby ignoring whatever depth an organization might have from being considered in the final grade. And that faulty methodology is one reason I take so much issue with the decision to give the organization a D+.
THN's Lightning Top Ten
1. Vladimir Mihalik
2. Andy Rogers
3. Matt Smaby
4. Mike Egener
5. Doug O'Brien
6. Gerald Coleman
7. Marek Kvapil
8. Karri Ramo
9. Nick Tarnasky
10. Ryan Craig
Now, if you're wondering where Tom Jones (and in the past Damian Crisdotero) gets this list from every year, we at Bolt Prospects have it straight from the horse's mouth that it comes from the Lightning organization, so the list actually is a valuable gauge of attitudes inside the organization although it tends to be heavily weighted toward NHL readiness.
The first thing you notice, however, is the conspicuous absence of Paul Ranger and Evgeny Artyukhin. Both were left off because they were in the NHL at the time, but Ryan Craig was included which is an indicator this was a dated list with origins some time in December at the latest. That seems to jibe with the decision to put Gerald Coleman at #6 because at that point the luster of his solid start hadn't completely faded in the misery of his precipitous collapse.
In any event, we now know who was not even considered by THN:
Radek Smolenak (#6 on the Bolt Prospects Midterms) was not even considered. This despite the fact he is one goal away from having his second straight 30 goal year in the OHL and that he has nearly reached his scoring totals from last season roughly 20 games earlier than last year.
Stanislav Lascek (#12 on the Bolt Prospects Midterms) was not even considered. Here's a player who is currently tied for second in the QMJHL in scoring, and yet he is not even factored into the grade given by THN.
Justin Keller (#15 on the Bolt Prospects Midterms) was not even considered. Keller is currently second in scoring in the WHL and will shatter the 40 goal mark easily by the end of February.
Blair Jones (#18 on the Bolt Prospects Midterms) was not even considered. Jones is currently 9th in the WHL in scoring and has already passed his scoring totals from last season.
Vasily Koshechkin (#20 on the Bolt Prospects Midterms) was not even considered. At age 23 he is a Russian Superleague All Star. He currently checks in at second in that league in every major goaltending statistic. And yet his accomplishments are rendered meaningless by THN's exclusionary criteria.
And that says nothing about the quality depth players the Lightning have in their organization. Grinders like Darren Reid who has already made his NHL debut this season, developing goaltenders like ECHL All Star Jonathan Boutin and comeback players like Gerard Dicaire who has second round talent but ninth round luck with physical ailments. Each of these players also has an opportunity to carve an NHL career out and is currently showing signs of development in the Lightning system but they too are ignored by THN.
And, each is no higher than a third round pick. Let us never forget the bias that carries.