Prospects 20-16 feature a disappointing former 2nd round pick, three young forwards and the first goaltender to be revealed in the Lightning's Top-25. Check it out:
20.) D Andreas Holmqvist, Springfield Falcons (AHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'4" 195 lbs. Drafted: 2nd Round 2001
42GP 3-9-12 22PIMs (-15)
In general, the Lightning advocates that European prospects come to North America early in their career to make the adjustment to North American hockey. The reason is simple: it's very difficult to know how a prospect will react to the different style of hockey played in the pros on this continent. The case of Andreas Holmqvist is one very vivid testament to this fact. Three years ago the former 2001 2nd round pick was considered by the Lightning to be their most NHL ready prospect; so much so that they gave Holmqvist a nice one-way contract and were penciling him in as a contender for the team's 6th/7th defenseman slot. It's not hard to see why they made that determination as Holmqvist has many of the tools necessary to be a top-flight offensive defenseman. He's a good skater with strong passing skills and a cannon for a point shot. None of these, however, substitute for the kind of defensive hockey sense and physical toughness that Holmqvist simply could not muster in the last two seasons between Pensacola of the ECHL and the Springfield Falcons. To use the cliche "deer in headlights" to explain Holmqvist's defensive performace over that period is an understatement, and while Andreas tried to apply himself more in using his long frame in the corners and along the wall, his spindly 195 pound frame was simply not up to the task. There are strong rumors now Holmqvist will return to Sweden next season to play for his old club team Linkopings. Given his relatively hefty entry contract and what it might cost to qualify him, Holmqvist may not even last the summer in the organization before he is cut loose.
19.) LW Mark Tobin, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'3" 211 lbs. Drafted: 2nd Round 2004
68GP 22-28-50 107PIMs (-1)
Mark Tobin has established himself as a good lower line grinder prospect for the Lightning organization, but has yet to really prove he has the power forward offensive potential the team thought they had when they selected him in the late 2nd round of last year's Entry Draft. Posessing a good sized frame and plenty of willingness to use it, Tobin can make waves physically in high traffic areas, but his hands and skating still need work. Playing for the offensive juggernaut that was Sidney Crosby's Rimouski Oceanic, Tobin played second line matching his previous season's goal total of 22 while improving his overall point total by 12 points. The improvement statistically was solid, but in the playoffs and Memorial Cup when the checking got tighter, Tobin was lackluster offensively for all but the Chicoutimi series in the QMJHL finals. Being held scoreless in five games at the Memorial Cup against the best junior teams in the CHL ended the season on a sour note for Tobin, and now the Newfoundland native has to face the prospect of a 2005-2006 season on a Rimouski team which may lose Sidney Crosby, M.A. Pouliot and a host of other top flight players. This will leave the gritty winger in a position of leadership on the team's top line with little proven talent around him to speak of. Whether or not he responds to the challenge to lead his team not only physically but as a scorer too will be a huge factor in helping to sort out just how much upside Tobin truly has.
18.) C/LW Zbynek Hrdel, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'4" 195 lbs. Drafted: 9th Round 2003
56GP 23-35-58 47PIMs (+25)
For Hrdel, the 2004-2005 season will go down as a successful campaign. The Czech native elevated his play in his third season of North American hockey scoring 8 more goals than a year ago to likely secure a pro contract from a Lightning organization desperate for some scoring help in the minors. He also managed to earn a spot on the Czech Republic's World Junior Championship team, a nice feather in cap. Hrdel has a long frame and posseses a solid shot and good puck skills when he is left alone in space. What became clear in the Memorial Cup final though as Hrdel was held to just 1 point in 5 tournament games is that he has considerably less success in the high traffic, tight checking environment that is sure to greet him at the pro level. The opportunities to play in space in the QMJHL, and to play on the power play with a world class talent like Crosby, are now gone and Hrdel must learn to fight though checks and pay the price physically to score. He has the tools to do so, although his skating is rather average and he could certainly stand to gain 15 pounds.
17.) C/LW Dimitri Kazionov, Lada Togliatti (RUS)
Ht/Wt: 6'4" 185 lbs. Drafted: 4th Round 2002
46GP 3-8-11 32PIMs (Even) (Superleague)
The slow and steady development of Dimitri Kazionov continues in Togliatti of the Superleague. Dimitri has established himself as a fixture on the Russian league power's lower lines and managed to successfully match his previous season's point totals even with the influx of NHL talent during the lockout. And although he sat for much of Lada's playoff run in favor of more experienced forwards, Kazionov did get the opportunity to play for the team in the finals as they squared off against the eventual champions, Moscow Dynamo. Kazionov is a well rounded player with good speed and puck skills and a good sense positionally in his own end of the rink. If he wants to make it in the Lightning organization though, he'll have to cross the pond within the next couple of seasons to begin his adjustment to North American hockey where he will have to bulk up and learn to compete more physically in order to excel.
16.) G Gerald Coleman, London Knights (OHL)
Ht/Wt: 6'4" 190 lbs. Drafted: 7th Round 2003
38GP 32-2-2 1.70GAA .941sv%
If there was a text book on how to get positive marks during one's signing season, Gerald Coleman's picture would be on the cover. Playing behind the eventual Memorial Cup champion London Knights, possibly the greatest junior team in Canadian junior hockey history, Coleman scorched through the league leading the OHL statistically in both GAA and save percentage, not to mention his eye popping 32-2-2 record. Coleman, who has proven himself a young man of superior coachability and work ethic, has managed to apply Lightning goalie coach Jeff Reese's approach of simplifying his game, using his long frame and playing strong positionally in his net and used it with remarkable success in the OHL. However, despite Coleman's strong play he was passed over for numerous accolades this season including losing out on making an appearance for USA's World Junior Championship team, being snubbed for the OHL All-Star Game and only finishing third in the league's balloting for best goaltender. The cruelest cut of all though came when Coleman, who began the year tandeming with undrafted Ryan MacDonald, ended it on the bench for all but one Memorial Cup game behind undrafted veteran Adam Dennis, who was acquired by the Hunter brothers at the OHL trade deadline specifically for his playoff experience. Are Coleman's numbers more a manifestation of the team he played behind rather than his natural ability? Hockey people in the OHL appear to feel so, and Coleman's slow feet, poor rebound control and less than stellar puck handling ability may be the reason why. Now Coleman waits for a pro contract, which he has earned and richly deserves, but he should be considered a project and the rough edges of his game will require a lot of seasoning to smooth out. His game is not unlike that of Brian Eklund's, although he doesn't have quite the same level of athleticism Eklund does. His work ethic and attitude are outstanding though, and should lead him to a good professional career and possibly even make him a good NHL backup goaltender.
Pete's Lightning Prospect Rankings
16.) G Gerald Coleman, London (OHL)
17.) C/LW Dimitri Kazionov, Togliatti (RUS)
18.) C/LW Zbynek Hrdel, Rimouski (QMJHL)
19.) LW Mark Tobin, Rimouski (QMJHL)
20.) D Andreas Holmqvist, Springfield (AHL)
21.) D Mike Lundin, Maine (HEast)
22.) LW Justin Keller, Kelowna (WHL)
23.) LW Dennis Packard, Springfield (AHL)
24.) C Andre Deveaux, Springfield (AHL)
25.) LW Alexei Glukhov, Victoria (ECHL)
Note:Rankings take into consideration future upside AND NHL readiness in comparing players. The team the player is listed with is the last franchise in the league the player spent the largest part of the year with. Height/weight metrics were compiled from the player's team or league where available. These rankings are my personal rankings and not representative of the opinions of the Boltprospects staff as a whole.