Adam Erne knows his days with the Syracuse Crunch are numbered.
With six games left in the Crunch’s season, the 18-year-old is soaking in his first professional experience. Next year, if the 2013 second-round pick doesn’t make the Tampa Bay Lightning, he returns to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who are hosting the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament.
“I guess it’s more preparation for camp this year in Tampa,” said Erne, who signed an entry level contract with the Lightning and an amateur tryout with the Crunch last week. “I know a lot of these guys are going to be there, and it’s going to be a lot of the same skill set. Obviously, there’s a jump to the NHL, but this is as close as it gets. It’s good preparation for camp.”
We continue our Bolt 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 Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 9, 2014 is … Jonathan Marchessault, W, Syracuse Crunch (AHL - USA).
Jonathan Marchessault just experienced a year’s worth of miracles in the span of two days.
First, the scoring winger acquired from the Columbus organization in March scored twice – shorthanded – in a ridiculously improbable come-from-behind Crunch win over Utica on Saturday. Syracuse was down by three goals with less than 90 seconds on the clock when Vladdy Namestnikov scored to make the game somewhat interesting. Namestnikov’s goal was scored with Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis pulled for an extra attacker during four-on-four play.
After his first practice with the Syracuse Crunch Tuesday, Henri Ikonen spent some extra time on the ice working with fellow rookies.
Ikonen, who signed an entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday and will finish the season on an amateur tryout with Syracuse, liked the brisk, energetic pace at practice. The 2013 sixth-round draft pick admits he may not be the most skilled player, but prides himself on the effort he puts in.
“I’m a good skater, so I bring some speed,” the 5-11, 184-pound winger said. “I can battle in the corners, win battles and take the puck to the net, and hopefully score some goals from there.”
Jonathan Marchessault still believes he has to prove himself every day.
The Crunch forward already has a contract for next season, is a two-time American Hockey League All-Star, and after coming to the Tampa Bay organization in a deadline trade, leads Syracuse with 48 points. The Crunch may be a longshot to make the playoffs, but Marchessault has no plans to mail in the rest of the season.
“As a professional, you always have to be ready for any game,” the 23-year-old said. “Every game is important, so you’ve always got to be able to show what you have and what you've got.”
The transition to the North American style of hockey has begun for Joel Vermin.
After a nine-hour trip from Switzerland on Sunday, the forward joined the Syracuse Crunch for practice this week. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s seventh-round selection in the 2013 draft will spend the next few weeks getting acclimated to the American Hockey League.
“Everything is new for me -- small ice rink, new team -- but I’m getting used to it,” said Vermin, who is expected to make his Crunch debut this weekend. “I’m feeling pretty good.”
Vermin signed a three-year deal with Tampa Bay in September, but was assigned to Bern of the Swiss A-League instead of coming over to North America. He will likely play in the Lightning organization in America next season.