Tomorrow is the end of the 2015 Tampa Bay Lightning Prospect Tournament in Estero, Florida, and the Lightning (1-1) have a chance to claim its championship if Nashville beats Washington earlier in the day and the Bolts defeat Florida. There is no championship game or oversized trophy awarded to the winners to skate around Germain Arena and collect their pent-up tears of joy, however.
There’s a reason for that – it’s all about the experience.
This week's “Mikael Andresson Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 34
· Prospect season is underway, and The Goose is loose
· Prospect tournament preview
· Vasy’s replacement – Who’s ready? Who’s not?
· Top 10 Upsiders, organization-wide
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.
This week's “Freddy Modin Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 33
· Draft review – pick by pick & overall
· Offseason update – are they done?
Another draft has come and gone in Lightningland and the NFL-Draft-trained masses are expecting a grade and a winner or loser label.
Not happening here, sorry. There are few things as meaningless as draft grades the day after a draft. Reactions now to a draft will be completely different in five years, but you already knew that.
That soapbox aside, we can look at what the Lightning did this weekend and compare it to our system pre-draft wish list for player position and player types. Of course, Lightning Director of Scouting Al Murray said the club doesn’t pay attention to positions. He also said we wouldn't believe him.
“We don’t care where you play, just that you play the way we want you to play,” he told Lightning Radio.
One of the things we've seen repeatedly in the Yzerman-Murray drafts is the penchant to spend a pick or two on players with the potential to immediately impact the Syracuse Crunch. Twice Head Amateur Scout Al Murray has spent first round picks on older first-time draft-eligible players (Namestnikov and DeAngelo) that could be fast tracked to the AHL after just one additional junior season. With later round draftees Cedric Paquette and Henri Ikonen, Murray once again dipped into the 19-year-old pool, allowing Syracuse to benefit from them have quicker access to the professional development pipeline. We've also seen Murray draft three players that were basically draft-and-sign guys (Ondrej Palat, Kristers Gudlevskis, and Cameron Darcy) that were eligible to immediately slot into the AHL after being drafted. Gudlevskis (pictured) was drafted out of Europe, and while Darcy just wasn't quite ready last year, the expectation when he selected was that he'd transition immediately to Syracuse or ECHL Florida. In this article, I'll first highlight some of the one-and-done players from Pete Choquette's 2015 Bolt Prospects Draft Review, and I'll also throw out at least five players to keep your eye on in the later rounds as potential draft-and-sign guys that could help the Crunch this fall.
This week's “Corey Schwab Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 32
· Playoff review: What went right? What went wrong?
· Offseason preview: options exist
· Draft preview: types to target
· Latest prospect rankings: Who’s up, who’s down?
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.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2015 season has come to a close in mid-June, leaving precious little time for us here at Bolt Prospects to get you caught up for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Before we do, though, lets take a moment to reflect on just how important the draft and the minor league developmental system have been to the Lightning's success thus far. The team climbed the mountain all the way to the Stanley Cup Final this year, and while they didn't get all the way to the summit, they got a peek at the promised land largely on the strength of draft picks and other prospects who came of age in this organization.
Looking at all the players who saw time in the 2015 NHL Playoffs, there were 13 Bolt Prospects alumni and three current Bolt Prospects on a roster of 24 players that saw time in the postseason. Of those 16, 11 came to the Lightning via the NHL Entry Draft with Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown, and Andrej Sustr coming via free agency, and Ben Bishop and Jonathan Marchessault coming to the team via trade. So, nearly half of the team that came within an eyelash of winning it all this season came to the team through the draft. This event in late June matters. A lot.
Beginning last June and through free agency, the regular season, and all the way to the end of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals the Lightning gave its fans plenty of excitement.
It’s a good thing, because there’s a boring offseason ahead. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Last year the Bolts were swinging deals and signing free agents to shore up their defense (Garrison, Stralman), bottom six forwards (Boyle, Morrow), and backup goalie (Nabokov).
There aren’t many needs for the Eastern Conference champs now, though there are some areas in need of improvement.
First, a look at who’s on the way out: