Bolt Prospects 2005-2005 Final Rankings: 10-6

Today, we break into the top ten of Bolt Prospects 2005-2006 Final Rankings. Keep in mind that at the conclusion of the announcement of the Final Rankings, Bolt Prospects will begin its 2005-2006 NHL Entry Draft Coverage by profiling a number of prospects who might be of interest to the Lightning at their first round pick, number 15 overall. Back to the rankings, a quick reiteration of the Bolt Prospects criteria. We consider a prospect to be any player under the age of 24 on opening night 2005 who has played less than 82 career games in the NHL and less than 41 games in any single NHL season. Paul Ranger, Evgeny Artyukhin and Ryan Craig have graduated under our criteria and are now listed on our prospects page under a new section entitled "Bolt Prospects Alumni." Now, on to spots 10-6 which feature 4 forwards and 1 defenseman: [b]10. LW [url=justin-keller]Justin Keller[/url], 20 years old, 5'11" 185 lbs, Kelowna (WHL)[/b] [i]Kelowna (WHL) 72 GP, 51-37-88, 82 PIM, +12[/i] One word that describes Justin Keller: "sniper". The Kelowna left winger led the WHL in goals this season with 51 and was also tops in power play goals and game winning goals. Big or small, early or late, Keller has the laser shot to light the lamp. For his efforts this year, Keller was named a First Team WHL Western Conference All-Star and he was runner up for WHL Player of the Year. Next year he will take his game to the next level with Springfield of the AHL where he will have to answer the handful of remaining questions about his game. Keller disappeared in Lightning camp last Fall after a strong Traverse City tournament partly because of his reluctance to get involved in the physical game and his tendency at times to cling the perimeter. Will Keller pay the price as a pro to become a goal scorer in the NHL? If he does, the Lightning could have their greatest 8th round steal since [url=ryan-craig]Ryan Craig.[/url] [b]9. D [url=mike-egener]Mike Egener[/url], 21 years old, 6'4" 213 lbs, Springfield (AHL)[/b] [i]Springfield (AHL) 38 GP, 2-1-3, 142 PIM, -2 Johnstown (ECHL) 18 GP, 2-2-4, 66 PIM, +2[/i] Entering the third year of his professional career, Mike Egener has a lot of questions to answer. Can he stay healthy a full season? Can he finally adjust to the greater speed of the pro game? In terms of raw physical tools, Mike Egener is probably the best skating defenseman of any blueliner in the Lightning organization not named Dan Boyle. Unfortunately, his development has been slowed by a series of knee sprains making the upcoming 2006-2007 season, the last of his three year entry level deal, of critical importance to his young career. When he is on his game and playing with confidence, few opposing forwards can face the onslaut of Egener's supreme mobility and zealous willingness to take the body without blinking. When he isn't, Egener is an undisciplined mess who struggles with his decision making with and without the puck. The former is destined to be a solid stay-at-home top four defenseman in the NHL. The latter may struggle to find a full time job at hockey's top level. What remains to be seen is which future Egener chooses, and what effect new Falcons head coach Steve Stirling could have on the shape of events yet to unfold in the young defenseman's career. [b]8. RW [url=stanislav-lascek]Stanislav Lascek[/url], 20 years old, 6'0" 188 lbs, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)[/b] [i]Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 64 GP, 47-88-135, 96 PIM, +42[/i] What Keller has been to goal scoring at the junior level, Lascek has been to the art of the assist. The Slovakian winger finished second in the QMJHL in both scoring and assists this season and showed huge improvement in his goal scoring totals by finishing 8th in the league in biscuits deposited at the back of the net. Lascek's vision and hockey sense, his supreme ability to find his linemates and deliver them prime scoring chances, are almost netherworldly and may be enough to help him overcome his subpar skating ability which he continues to furiously work to improve. Lascek has already signed with the Lightning and will likely skate for Springfield of the AHL next season. Will Lascek be able to compete physically with both the size and speed of the pro game or will he merely be a power play specialist who excels with the time and space afforded to him when on the man advantage? If Lascek can do the former, watch out. He may be the miniature version of the Lightning's own Vaclav Prospal. [b]7. RW [url=marek-kvapil]Marek Kvapil[/url], 21 years old, 5'11" 172 lbs, Springfield (AHL)[/b] [i]Springfield (AHL) 79 GP, 18-27-46, 24 PIM, -22[/i] You might have to go all the way back to the days of the IHL's Atlanta Knights to find minor pro rookie statistics by a Lightning prospect as good as the 18 goals and 46 points Marek Kvapil put up in his first campaign. Of those 18 goals, many were of the highlight reel variety and behind only Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle he might be the most dangerous player one-on-one in the entire organization. He has a tendency to overhandle the puck, but it's almost understandable given the nearly sublime stickhandling ability Kvapil displays at top speed. In nearly all Falcons games Bolt Prospects viewed this season, there were one or two "Kvapil moments" when Marek beat 2,3,4, sometimes the entire opposing team on rushes through the neutral zone. Skill alone, however, will not ensure Kvapil a successful career. To live up to his potential Kvapil still needs to learn to use his linemates better, something he started to do at the end of the year on a line with Jason Jaspers and Zdenek Blatny. Even more importantly, Kvapil must bulk up from his current, scrawny 172 lbs frame. Too often in 2005-2006 Kvapil was completely unable to compete on the forecheck because he lacked the size and strength to be successful along the wall. The Lightning have seen players with world class stickhandling ability but poor size and strength fail in the NHL before: Exhibit A, Alexander Kharitonov. The formula is simple: if Kvapil can prove himself able to play and compete in the high traffic areas on the ice, he could have a long and prosperous career as a scoring line forward in the NHL. If he can't, he'll be hard pressed to make it at hockey's top level. [b]6. C [url=nick-tarnasky]Nick Tarnasky[/url], 21 years old, 6'2" 233 lbs, Springfield (AHL)[/b] [i]Springfield (AHL) 68 GP, 14-9-23, 100 PIM, -8 Tampa Bay (NHL) 12 GP, 0-1-1, 4 PIM, -3[/i] Go get a piece of paper and write this down, in ink. This is a Bolt Prospects lead pipe lock: Nick Tarnasky will make the Tampa Bay Lightning out of camp and become a full time NHLer in 2006-2007. Mark. It. Down. This former 2003 9th round pick is on the fast track to a very long a prosperous career as an NHL checking liner. Tarnasky has done all the right things to ensure his development towards hockey's top level has been a smooth one. He was, after all, the player in the best physical condition entering the Lightning's 2005 training camp. Former flaws in his skating have quickly been rectified. No one works harder on the ice and no one prepares harder off it than Nick Tarnasky. He is the proverbial pit bull on a pork chop along the wall and in high traffic areas. The same zeal and determination was also manifest in his role as one of Springfield's best penalty killers. And, while he will never be confused for Cam Neely in the hands department, towards the end of the 2005-2006 season Tarnasky consistently showed the ability to overpower opposing defenseman with his strong, fluid skating stride. Using his body to protect the puck, Tarnasky began routinely driving the net and creating scoring chances on a regular basis. Given another offseason to train and prepare, we have a hard time believing Tarnasky, who was on the cusp of making the NHL last year, won't kick down the door next year. [b]Bolt Prospects 2005-2006 Final Rankings[/b] [b][url=http://www.boltprospects.com/prospects]Top Twenty Five[/url][/b] 6. C [url=nick-tarnasky]Nick Tarnasky[/url], 21 years old, 6'2" 233 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 7. RW [url=marek-kvapil]Marek Kvapil[/url], 21 years old, 5'11" 172 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 8. RW [url=stanislav-lascek]Stanislav Lascek[/url], 20 years old, 6'0" 188 lbs, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 9. D [url=mike-egener]Mike Egener[/url], 21 years old, 6'4" 213 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 10. LW [url=justin-keller]Justin Keller[/url], 20 years old, 5'11" 185 lbs, Kelowna (WHL) 11. C [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url], 19 years old, 6'2" 195 lbs, Moose Jaw (WHL) 12. D [url=doug-obrien]Doug O'Brien[/url], 22 years old, 6'1" 200 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 13. G [url=vasily-koshechkin]Vasily Koshechkin[/url], 23 years old, 6'6" 210 lbs, Khimik (RUS) 14. RW [url=darren-reid]Darren Reid[/url], 23 years old, 6'2" 205 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 15. G [url=jonathan-boutin]Jonathan Boutin[/url], 21 years old, 6'1" 210 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) 16. G [url=gerald-coleman]Gerald Coleman[/url], 21 years old, 6'4" 190 lbs, Springfield (AHL) 17. RW [url=alexander-polushin]Alexander Polushin[/url], 23 years old, 6'4" 200 lbs, Cherepovets (RUS) 18. RW/C [url=chris-lawrence]Chris Lawrence[/url], 19 years old, 6'4" 217 lbs, Mississauga (OHL) 19. G [url=morgan-cey]Morgan Cey[/url], 24 years old, 6'3" 177 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) 20. RW/C [url=andre-deveaux]Andre Deveaux[/url], 6'3" 240 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) 21. LW [url=zbynek-hrdel]Zbynek Hrdel[/url], 20 years old, 6'4" 195 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) 22. D [url=mike-lundin]Mike Lundin[/url], 21 years old, 6'2" 186 lbs, Maine (HEast) 23. LW/C [url=adam-henrich]Adam Henrich[/url], 22 years old, 6'4" 234 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) 24. G [url=kevin-beech]Kevin Beech[/url], 19 years old, 6'4" 177 lbs, Sudbury (OHL) 25. D [url=gerard-dicaire]Gerard Dicaire[/url], 23 years old, 6'2" 230 lbs, Springfield (AHL) [b][url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1131]Honorable Mentions[/url][/b] D [url=pj-atherton]PJ Atherton[/url], 23 years old, 6'2" 190 lbs, Springfield (AHL) D [url=jay-rosehill]Jay Rosehill[/url], 20 years old, 6'3" 195 lbs, Johnstown (ECHL) [b][url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1129]Top Five Overage Prospects[/url][/b] LW [url=zdenek-blatny]Zdenek Blatny[/url], 25 years old, 6'1" 195 lbs, Springfield (AHL) G [url=johan-holmqvist]Johan Holmqvist[/url], 28 years old, 6'3" 185 lbs, Brynas (SWE) C [url=jason-jaspers]Jason Jaspers[/url], 25 years old, 5'11" 207 lbs, Springfield (AHL) RW [url=norm-milley]Norm Milley[/url], 26 years old, 6'0" 195 lbs, Springfield (AHL) G [url=fredrik-norrena]Fredrik Norrena[/url], 32 years old, 6'0" 195 lbs, Linkopings (SWE)

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Tarnasky

Gutsy call with Tarnasky at 6. I'm not really sure what you're scaling this on, so I can't agree or disagree. He's more NHL ready than the prospects listed before him, but having him ahead of Kvapil and Lascek, well that's just a jaw-dropper.

Re:Tarnasky

Believe me it was acknowledged in the creation of the list that there are better prospects behind Tarnasky, but, as was mentioned, he's the only true prospect who is a virtual lock to make the roster. Therefore, NHL readiness played a huge part, as does the fact that Lightning are in love with the kid. And they have been for a couple years now. We originally raised an eyebrow when they signed him out of Lethbridge so early, but he's come through just like they said he would. Tarnasky's end-of-season tear backs up his ranking when combined with his already established intangibles. When you add Jay Feaster saying the bottom line(s) will be undergoing a transformation into a more physical unit (read: We're moving up Tarnasky - and maybe Reid), this puts him above some guys who have much higher upsides statistically, but not as certain to play in Tampa. It took Tarnasky a while to adjust to the WHL before he broke out with 26 goals. It took him almost 2 seasons to find his offensive side in the AHL. He probably tops out as a third line center, but is best suited to be a possible shut-down checking center - and a good one - at the NHL level. If the rankings were based on just upside, you're correct, Kvapil, Lascek and probably a handful of others could be above him.

Well in that case I'd have

Well in that case I'd have to agree with Tarnasky's high ranking. I wasn't completely clear on what you were using to rank them, and I must say if it's current NHL readiness, I'd be far more comfortable with Tarnasky on the big club rather than Lascek or Kvapil. Speaking of which, do you expect to see Jaspers come up with Tarnasky and be a part of the checking lines as well?

Re: Jaspers

I kind of doubt Jaspers will make the team out of camp. His size isn't really ideal for a checking liner and he's never really fully embraced that role. We obviously believe Tarnasky will make the team and Taylor is under contract for next season. If they retain Cibak that'll be three checking line centers and Jaspers out in the cold waiting for an injury callup.

Re: Guts

It didn't take any guts at all. Tarnasky may have been the safest pick for our top ten of any guy in there. There aren't any questions about Tarnasky. He is a competent skater, he can compete physically, he is in the kind of top condition Tortorella desires and he has superb character. He will be an NHL player. It's almost a certainty. We still can't say that about guys like Kvapil and Lascek. Are they more skilled than Tarnasky? Sure. But skill alone won't get you to the NHL, especially in the Lightning's system where everyone is expected to compete physically on the forecheck. Kvapil hasn't proven he can do that yet. I probably saw a dozen Springfield games last season and I can't think of a single time Kvapil won a physical battle in the corner. And Lascek didn't prove he could do that at Traverse City last Fall and will have to prove it next year in Springfield. And like Chad said, NHL readiness is absolutely a factor. If we were doing rankings only once a year like THN or HF, maybe doing it based on upside alone would make sense, but it wouldn't be as accurate, IMO, and it wouldn't be as timely or prescient. With our rankings at BP we're acknowledging that the development of prospects is a fluid situation that changes over the course of a handful of months. We are trying to create an accurate snapshot in time about where each player is in the organization: what they've proven and what they still have yet to prove. And Tarnasky, while he may not be flashy, has proven almost everything he needed to when he signed his first pro contract 2 years ago. I fully expect him to be graduated as a prospect by January and it would not surprise me if he contributes more as a rookie than Artyukhin did in his first season.

Tarnasky

Can he be the rugged forward that the Lightning are missing? We need someone to step up and get there nose dirty! If he is the one, bring him in now!! We cannot be the softest team in hockey anymore!!!

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