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The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 76

This week’s “Yevgeni Artyukhin Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 76
· Second chances
· Point is on point
· Leave Hedman alone
· Crunch updates
· Interview with Yanni Gourde
· New prospect rankings
· Prospect of the Week

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...

Gourde's Move to Center Has Sparked Crunch's Offense


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Yanni Gourde’s move to the middle has provided a spark for the Syracuse Crunch’s offense.

Used primarily a winger over the course of his pro career, Gourde was asked to center a line with Mike Halmo and Cory Conacher last weekend. The forward registered the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Rochester on Friday, and had the primary assist on Halmo’s go-ahead goal in a 2-1 win over Utica on Saturday.

Although there are still some aspects of center he’s looking to improve, Gourde feels comfortable in the middle.

“It is a little bit tougher, especially taking draws, but I’m working on it and I’m trying to get better,” Gourde said. “But once the puck is dropped, hockey is hockey. I know what you have to do and I do it.”

Wilcox Hopes Offseason Work Leads to More Starts


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Wilcox has focused on calming his game down.

The Syracuse Crunch goalie concentrated on cutting down on unnecessary movements and improving his positioning throughout the summer. The work put in has quickly paid dividends for the second-year pro.

Wilcox earned back-to-back wins for the Crunch last weekend, and hopes his offseason work continues to earn him starts.

“I really worked hard at being in control, being calm and eliminating acrobatic saves and stuff like that,” Wilcox said. “When you don’t make those, you’re in better position. It was a good summer for me and it’s really leading into having a good start of the year.”

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