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.
Realizing it was his last chance, Cody Kunyk made a case for a contract.
Looking to continue his career past the collegiate level, Kunyk registered more than a point per game in his senior season at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Kunyk earned a deal in March, but now the 24-year-old is the oldest rookie on the Syracuse Crunch roster and is out to prove himself again.
"My last year was definitely my best year," Kunyk said. "Being an older guy, I had to play with a chip on my shoulder. I knew that there wasn't going to be a tomorrow. I had to make my own path. I gave it everything I had every game, and I was fortunate enough to sign a contract."
"I think it adds a little more grit to my game," he added. "I feel like I have a little bit more to prove since I'm an older guy."
This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· No Hedman. Now what?
· Drouin's debut
· What to expect from Witkowski (when he's recalled again)
· DeAngelo in trouble?
· BP Mailbag (Trade or more call-ups? JP Cote, Vladdy's future, projections for Vermin & Peca)
· Weekly prospect review
Slater Koekkoek is confident about his path to the National Hockey League.
Despite a shoulder injury prematurely ending his final junior season, Koekkoek led the Windsor Spitfires' blueline in goals, assists, and points last season. But the Tampa Bay Lightning 2012 first-rounder is focused on rounding out his defensive game as he begins his professional career with the Syracuse Crunch.
"There's always pressure being a first round pick. It's a label and people are going to talk about it," Koekkoek said. "But everybody has their own road to the NHL. There's a lot of guys in the NHL that went after me, and there's some guys still not in the NHL that went before me. There's no timetable. I'll develop as fast as I can, and hopefully get called up whenever they need me."
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for October 21, 2014 is … Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).
#Soon became #Now this week when the long-awaited arrival of Jonathan Drouin finally happened. The Lightning’s top-rated prospect made his NHL debut on Monday night in Edmonton, creating several scoring chances in what was an overall sloppy team loss for the Bolts.