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.

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