Rankings

Event tag that describes a prospect being ranked by this site or some other source

2017-2018 Midterm Rankings

Introduction
Well, it finally was time for Steve Yzerman to cash in. After several years of carefully cultivating one of the deeper prospect pools in the NHL, the Lightning used that depth to complete a trade deadline blockbuster that leveraged prospects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden to land playoff reinforcements Ryan McDonagh and J. T. Miller. Have no fear, though, the Lightning still maintain a deep stable of solid youth, some of whom are already contributing at the NHL level while an extremely youthful Syracuse Crunch team has found its voice and is playing well beyond its years down in the AHL. So, even though a couple of bigger names have moved along, don't expect that to diminish a likely youth movement to come in Tampa Bay over the next two or three years, particularly on the lower lines at the forward position.

As per custom, it's now time for a review of the prospect ranking rules. Any player 24 or older on opening night of the Lightning's season is considered an overage prospect for the purposes of the rankings, hence why Yanni Gourde and Matt Peca were considered overagers earlier this season. A skater with 41 NHL games in a single season or 82 career NHL games of service is considered graduated from prospect status on the website. This has included newly minted Bolt Prospects alumni Mikhail Sergachev, Gourde, and Jake Dotchin so far this season. Goaltenders who have 30 NHL decisions in a single season or 41 career NHL decisions are considered graduated. Lastly, any NCAA player is considered a prospect for the duration of their college career regardless of age.

So, let's begin...

Offseason Prospect Rankings

Introduction
Now that the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and Lightning prospect development camp are in the past, it's time to update BoltProspects' prospect rankings. Usually we do the introductions to these rankings in a fairly formulaic fashion, with a quick overview of the general inertia of the prospect pipeline since our last rankings update followed by the usual legalese about our ranking eligibility rules. This time around, I'd like to take a step back, though, and address a couple of things that have come up in the last month or so. You can call this clearing the air, venting, keeping it real, whatever you like...

Issue number one is the trade of Jonathan Drouin, a former prospect whose athletic gifts we obviously had a lot of respect for on the website. Because of that respect of Drouin, the talent, we were really swept up in a maelstrom of bomb throwing and hyperbole by different factions in the fan base that just didn't represent the more mature, nuanced position we have on the trade. To put it bluntly, there were so many people on my Twitter mentions acting the fool that day, you'd have thought I died and moved to a market like Toronto or Montreal where BS and hype erupt into the hockey world en masse through some rip in common sense and the time space continuum, alike.

Bolt Prospects 2016-2017 Preliminary Rankings

Introduction
Granted, we're about a month into the Lightning's NHL campaign. But, like a fine wine, we decided to let our 2016-2017 Bolt Prospects Preliminary Rankings age a bit before presenting them to you. Overall, the first month of the year has been very kind to the Lightning prospect pipeline. The Lightning have three Bolt Prospects currently in Tampa this year who look on track for graduation this year while an improved Syracuse team is studded with young players who will get an opportunity to play on what could potentially be one of the better teams in the AHL. Meanwhile, in junior and the NCAA, the fruits of the 2015 and 2016 drafts, in particular, are off to a roaring start that leave us optimistic that the Lightning prospect depth chart is returning to a level of quality we haven't seen for the past couple of years.

Before we begin, a reminder of the eligibility rules for the Rankings. Only players under 24 years of age on the opening night of the Lightning season are eligible to be ranked. As a consequence, talented players like Nikita Gusev and Kristers Gudlevskis are no longer counted in the top twenty-five. These "overage prospects" are not to be ignored, though, and add yet another level of depth to the team's pipeline. Skaters with 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games are considered graduated and no longer eligible to be ranked. Goaltenders with 30 or more NHL decisions in a single NHL season or 41 or more NHL career decisions are also considered graduated from prospect status and no longer eligible to be ranked. For those wondering, yes, a certain Russian goaltending prospect is very, very close to graduation as of this posting. Lastly, NCAA prospects are eligible to remain on the rankings for the duration of their college careers, even if they are over 24 years of age.

Terms and conditions apply. Employees and family of Bolt Prospects are not eligible. No purchase necessary. Re-read the least paragraph for full rankings rules.

With that out of the way, let's begin...

2015-2016 Final Prospect Rankings

Introduction
The 2015-2016 season provided a mixed bag of results for the prospect pipeline of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. A glass-half-full view would point out the organization weathered one of the most extreme stress tests to a club's depth imaginable. Entering the playoffs without its top goal scorer and second-best defenseman and eventually losing its No. 1 goaltender to injury for an extended period of time in the postseason, the Lightning still managed to advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals partly on the performance of some of its top young players.

A glass-half-empty view, however, would point to the disappointing performance of the team's AHL affiliate, which missed the postseason leading to the dismissal of Head Coach Rob Zettler and the hiring of new Head Coach Benoit Groulx entering the 2016-2017 campaign. That's not to say there weren't developmental successes to point to on the Syracuse Crunch roster. But, the smashing success the club had with their affiliate under Jon Cooper had given way to a far more modest, underwhelming new normal that was ultimately not acceptable to the brain trust of Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman and Crunch GM Julien BriseBois.

Bolt Prospects' 2015-2016 Midterm Rankings

Introduction
Now past the All-Star Break of the 2015-2016 campaign, it's time for Bolt Prospects' Midterm Rankings. The year thus far might be summed up best by one word: adversity. Adversity has visited the big league club in the way of injuries, contractual uncertainties, and off-ice controversies. Nothing quite so soap operatic has besieged the Syracuse Crunch or the team's other young prospects, but adversity has found its way all the way down into the pipeline, as well.

2015 Supplemental Prospect Rankings

Introduction

After many days of careful debate and examination, Bolt Prospects is ready to announce its 2014-2015 Supplemental Rankings with the addition of the Lightning’s 2015 NHL Entry Draft class. The team's 2015 draft strategy seems in some ways to represent a shifting of gears by a team that appears to have taken the leap into elite status. With no glaring organizational holes after having addressed the defenseman position last summer and with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in their back pocket, this year's draft strategy appears to have moved away from the goal of adding cornerstone pieces or addressing organizational holes and toward the goal of adding the type of grit and depth necessary to win the sport's greatest prize. As you read the Supplemental Rankings, you'll see that as a common thread throughout almost all of the 2015 draftees. In addition, you'll see how the rankings take into account the results of the team's recent summer rookie camp, which was the first opportunity to evaluate the postseason development track of some prospects and see how new prospects stacked up against returnees.

2014-2015 Final Prospect Rankings

It's a compressed run up to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft this week, thanks to the Lightning's deep playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. As a result, we'll be rolling both our 2015 Final Rankings and our 2015 NHL Entry Draft Preview all in the same day. So, happy binge reading.

This year was a mixed bag for the prospects of the Tampa Bay Lightning system. In terms of actually delivering players to the NHL, the team had three players reach graduation from prospect status (Paquette, Drouin, and Namestnikov), while three other current prospects (Nesterov, Marchessault, and Vasilevskiy) all saw time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team also can boast a fairly top-heavy slate of prospects dotted with a few crown jewels, most notably the afore mentioned Vasilevskiy.

Bolt Prospects' 2014-2015 Midterm Rankings

With the graduation of Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects, it's officially time for our annual mid-season ritual of releasing our Midterm Rankings. While the season to date has been marked by a few surprises, the overall shape and outline of the Lightning organization appears to be in line with our early season expectations. Fresh from a season that saw an unprecedented migration of high-quality talent from the AHL to the NHL level, the Lightning organization still enjoys a handful of highly regarded top-tier prospects. But, the amazing depth the Lightning enjoyed is still in the process of being rebuilt. And, with injuries playing a factor, that depth is being heavily taxed midway through the 2014-2015 campaign, particularly at the defenseman position.

The rules remain the same: Only prospects who were under the age of 24 on opening night of the Lightning season are eligible for inclusion in the rankings (our apologies, Luke Witkowski). A skater prospect is considered graduated if they play 41 games in a single NHL season or they collect 82 career NHL games. Goaltenders graduate with 30 decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions. Finally, NCAA-based prospects are eligible for inclusion on the list as long as they are in school, regardless of their age. With the rules out of the way, let's begin...

2014-2015 Preliminary Rankings

By Pete Choquette

Introduction
Last season the Lightning had unprecedented success in establishing a rookie class at the NHL level, the likes of which may never be seen again. While that group continues on up top in Tampa Bay, the rest of the Lightning organization is left with the charge to reload rather than rebuild. With extra picks in the top-60 in the June draft this past summer, and more on the way next summer, the team has the ammunition to accomplish that goal. Plus, the results of this fall's camp showed the team may have had underrated strength in their remaining prospects with unexpected players making the club in the exhibition season. With all these factors put together, Bolt Prospects' staff has completed its fall tradition: the Preliminary Rankings for the 2014-2015 season.

2013-2014 Supplemental Prospect Rankings

Written by Pete Choquette (@jollymeangiant)

Introduction

The dog days of summer find us in a rare lull on the calendar here on Bolt Prospects between the ending of Lightning rookie camp and the start of annual prospect tournaments and training camp. What better opportunity to take the time to examine how the Lightning's 2014 draft class figures into our rankings? With that in mind, here's our 2013-2014 Supplemental Prospect Rankings, the final round of rankings before the 2014-2015 season.

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft offered a tremendous opportunity for the Tampa Bay Lightning to replenish a prospect system that has been depleted by the mass graduation of well over a half a dozen prospects that moved up from the AHL to NHL level last season. Some of the finest prospects in the land still held down the top spots in the rankings, but there was a considerable vacuum behind the top half dozen or so spots. With three picks in the coveted top-60 of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the team held three golden tickets to begin to restock and reload. The Lightning used those picks to select three defensemen, addressing the most obvious deficiency in their prospect pipeline. Will the needs-based approach to drafting pay off, or will the shift in philosophy this year backfire on the club? Time will tell.

Before we start with the rankings, it's time to once again review the rules of the rankings. Players under 24 years of age on opening night of the 2013-2014 NHL season were eligible for the rankings. Older prospects are considered overage prospects for the purposes of the website (sorry, J.P. Cote). Any skater prospect with 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games is considered graduated on the website. Any goaltender with 30 or more decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions is also considered graduated. Lastly, NCAA prospects are exempt from the 24 year-old cutoff for the duration of their college careers.

Got it? There will be a quiz later. With that out of the way, let's begin...

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