Now that the 2009-2010 season is fully underway, it's time for Bolt Prospects to engage in the annual ritual of submitting its October Preliminary Rankings. This is going to be a fascinating season for the Lightning's prospects, as Norfolk looks like it has the most depth its had since the Lightning affiliated itself with the Admirals franchise and a deep 2009 NHL Entry Draft has given Lightning fans much to look forward to in the junior ranks. But, before we proceed, lets go over the ground rules again.
Bolt Prospects considers a prospect skater to be any player under the age of 24 on opening night of the season who has played less than 41 NHL games in any given season and who has not played more than 82 career NHL games. For goaltenders, any player who has less than 30 NHL decisions in a single season and less than 41 career NHL decisions is still considered a prospect. The exception to these rules is an NCAA player, who is considered a prospect for however long they remain in school. Clear as mud? Wonderful. Let's begin...
The Tampa Bay Lighting announced the roster for their 2009 training camp on Wednesday. Camp is scheduled to start Saturday, September 12.
The roster includes six of the seven 2009 draft picks including Victor Hedman, Carter Ashton, and Richard Panik. The roster also includes prospect forward Radek Smolenak, who had planned to play the 2009-10 season in the KHL but had been recently cut from that team. The Lightning had retained Smolenak's NHL rights, and it has been rumored that Tampa is still interested in getting the gritty winger under contract.
Finally, as reported earlier today by Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the roster includes free agent tryout Brett McLean. The 31 year old veteran forward had his $1.7M salary bought out by the Florida Panthers on June 29th, and is looking to impress the Lighting enough to earn a contract.
With two weeks now passed since a very successful 2009 NHL Entry Draft and an equally successful Young Guns prospect camp, Bolt Prospects has released a supplemental update to its 2008-2009 Final Rankings. The rankings primarily reflect the addition of the team's recent draftees, as well as recent contractual moves by the team and its prospects.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have released their final roster for their Young Guns Prospect Camp scheduled for July 8-15 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The camp includes a prospect scrimmage on July 11 at 7pm that is open and free to the public and will include autograph sessions by the prospects and newly signed Lightning defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Matt Walker.
The camp roster includes the following Bolt prospects and non-organizational invitees:
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that six players originally scheduled to attend the camp have been omitted from the final roster and includes forwards Johan Harju, Justin Courtnall, Denis Kazionov, Dmitri Kazionov, Paul Szczechura, and Steve Downie.
Hereâ€™s a bold statement: the Tampa Bay Lightning are fully capable of becoming Stanley Cup champions within the next five seasons. With two legitimate franchise centers in longtime stalwart Vincent Lecavalier and star wunderkind Steven Stamkos and a bevy of young goaltenders headlined by the ultra-competitive Mike Smith, the Lightning actually have many of the key components necessary to become an elite NHL team. That may seem like an insane statement coming off of a year that the Lightning finished second-to-last in the league, but between their core pieces and a bevy of other young complimentary players like Paul Ranger, Andrej Meszaros, and Matt Lashoff, the future in Tampa Bay is brighter than anyone is giving the team credit for. However, for the Lightning to reach their full potential, they must keep Lecavalier and they must capitalize on their draft position in the deep 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Make no mistake about it: this is the most important draft for the Lightning in 11 years. The 1998 draft was critical for the 2004 Stanley Cup team in supplying two core players (Lecavalier and Richards) and four players (including Dimitry Afanasenkov and Martin Cibak) overall to that championship roster. That draft seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime talent grab for the team, but with three picks in the top-60 in a talent rich year for youth, the new Lightning scouting staff might be set up to bring in an equally impressive fistfull of NHL talent. If they do, the Lightning may be just a few years away from reclimbing the ladder into the ranks of the NHL elite.