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Prospect of the Week: October 24, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for October 24, 2013 is … Henri Ikonen, W (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).

We didn’t plan on having a repeat winner just five weeks into the prospect season, but Henri Ikonen give us no choice.

The Lightning’s sixth round draft choice in this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Ikonen had eight points in two games last week. The energetic winger had a goal and three assists on Friday night in Kitchener then added two goals and two helpers the next night in Owen Sound. He has registered a point in every game this season, and has at least two points in his last six games. Three of those six games were 4-pointers.

Bigger, Stronger Namestnikov Settling In as No. 1 Center

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After spending most of the offseason putting on 15 pounds of muscle, Vladislav Namestnikov is starting to see the results.

The second year Syracuse Crunch center, who trained in the summer with Joe Neal at 2SP Elite Athletic Development in Michigan, has used his new-found mass to register six points in the first five games of the season. He's adjusting to his new role as the team's top center, but at 6-feet, 185 pounds, Namestnikov is still working to get bigger.

"I think I got a little faster, and in the corners I'm winning more battles," the 20-year-old said. "It's good."

Crunch coach Rob Zettler believes Namestnikov is being rewarded for playing to his strength.

Crunch Adjust to Tampa Bay Personnel Moves

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch lineup still has a few question marks heading into a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators this weekend.

With Brett Connolly called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Charles Landry and Maxime Langelier-Parent sent to ECHL Florida on Wednesday, the Crunch are down to 19 skaters -- 12 forwards and seven defensemen.

Although Syracuse is unsure if Connolly will return by the puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, Crunch coach Rob Zettler has confidence in the forward lines he assembled at practice Thurday, which included moving Evan Rankin into Connolly's spot with Tanner Richard and Geoff Walker.

'MLP' Waits for His Opportunity

By Jeremy Houghtaling

With almost as many surgeries as games played in the last year, Maxime Langelier-Parent is focusing on the things he can change.

The Florida Everblades forward, sent down from the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday, was held to three games with the ECHL Everblades last year after undergoing surgeries on his hip and lower back. Despite signing AHL pacts with the Crunch in 2012 and 2013, the Montreal native is still waiting to make his American league debut.

"It's not something I control," Langelier-Parent said after practicing with the Crunch Tuesday. "So I'm just trying to do the best I can with the stuff I can control -- working out in the gym and on the ice, and just getting used to the pro hockey lifestyle."

Prospect of the Week: October 16, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for October 16, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).

Thank you, Patrick Roy.

One of the most underrated pieces of Lightning news in the past 15 months is Patrick Roy, then general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, drafting young Nikita Kucherov out of Russia in the CHL Import Draft.

Sergeev Steps Up for Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was an eventful weekend for Artem Sergeev.

The Syracuse Crunch defenseman notched his first professional goal in a 5-1 rout of Rochester on Saturday, then followed it up with his first professional fight against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Simon Despres on Sunday.

"It was actually pretty quick off a faceoff, (Brett) Connolly did a great job winning the draw right to my one-timer side," Sergeev said of his power play goal. "I didn't hesitate."

Rookie Witkowski Quickly Earning Zettler’s Trust

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After his first game of the season, Luke Witkowski wasn’t all that thrilled with the results.

The defenseman, in his first full professional season out of Western Michigan University, was the only Syracuse Crunch player to register a plus-3 rating in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Binghamton Senators last Saturday.

"Personally, plus-3, that's alright," Witkowski said. "Obviously, the outcome of the game wasn't what I wanted or what anyone else wanted. So, maybe on the stat sheet it looked good, but there's still some other things I need to work on."

With only six games of American Hockey League experience on his resume, Witkowski is just trying to keep his game simple as he develops.

The 23-year-old’s first game of the season impressed Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, who expects to keep Witkowski paired with Dmitry Korobov, who was plus-20 in 65 games with the Crunch last season, for the foreseeable future.

JT Brown Ready for Bigger Role

By Jeremy Houghtaling

No longer a rookie, JT Brown’s role with the Syracuse Crunch has changed.

Last year, the Minnesota native learned how to grind it out and shut down the opposition’s top lines. At Thursday’s practice at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Brown was paired with first-rounder Vlad Namestnikov and top prospect Nikita Kucherov on a scoring line.

Prospect of the Week: October 9, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for September 24, 2013 is … Henri Ikonen, W (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).

Watching the Lightning’s camp this September, a smallish forward kept demanding my attention with his energy and surprisingly successful plays along the boards. At least three times I remember thinking to myself, “Who is 57 again?” before seeing “Ikonen, Henri” on the roster in front of me.

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman likes skill and compete level in prospects and Ikonen boasts both. He also grades out high in hockey sense, another prioritized trait by Yzerman.

'Hockey Paradis' in Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Philippe Paradis describes it as one of his best memories.

Surrounded by friends and family at the Bell Centre in Montreal, not far from his hometown of Normandin, Paradis was selected 27th overall by Carolina Hurricanes in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

As Paradis made his way to the stage, one TV analyst mentioned his height, 6-1, and his ability to shoot the puck – 95.7 mph in the hardest shot competition during the CHL Top Prospects Game.

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