Articles that are feature stories.

Collegiate Defensemen Making Presence Known at Forward for Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

With a glut of players occupying the organizational blueline, the Tampa Bay Lightning came up with a new plan for Drew Olson and Carl Nielsen.

Despite spending more than a decade as defensemen, the pair was signed and turned into forwards. A dozen games into their rookie seasons, Olson and Nielsen are getting acclimated with the position change with the Syracuse Crunch.

“At first it was a little different, I wasn’t really sure what to expect or what to think about it,” Nielsen said. “But the more I play it, the more comfortable I feel and actually enjoy playing on the front end -- getting in front of the net and going into the corners as opposed to playing defensively.”

Richard's Versatility an Asset for Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

In his first taste of professional hockey last season, Tanner Richard learned the importance of being versatile.

The Syracuse Crunch forward started his first game on the fourth line, but was promoted to the top line after a mid-game injury. The lines shuffled a few more times, and after reinforcements were sent for the team’s Calder Cup run, the 20-year-old fresh out of junior was back to a grinding line to finish out his eight-game stint.

Although he was a playmaking first-line center with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm, Richard has become acclimated with his role changing on a game-to-game or shift-to-shift basis.

Prospect of the Week: November 19, 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 November 19, 2013 is … Jonathan Drouin, C/W (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).

There have been two Jonathan Drouins to play this season: the motivated one and the unmotivated one.

Gauthier Making Most of Opportunity With Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Danick Gauthier's expected stay with the Syracuse Crunch was one game.

Sent down to the ECHL Florida Everblades at the beginning of the season to find his confidence and improve his work ethic, the 6-2 forward was brought back earlier this month to temporarily fill a space in the lineup.

"He showed up and he played well," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "We thought we'd give him another chance and he continues to play well."

Gauthier has made the most of his latest opportunity. The 22-year-old registered three points in his first four games with Syracuse, and has earned a shot on the Crunch's top line alongside Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.

Prospect of the Week: November 13, 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 November 4, 2013 is … Jonathan Drouin, C/W (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, CAN).

If there were concerns as to how the 18 year-old would take being returned to Halifax and fare without former teammate and current NHLer Nathan MacKinnon to play alongside of, they ought to be non-existent now.

After being hindered by some minor injuries in the early going this season and what amounted (for him) to something of a slow start, Drouin's gotten off to a hot start in November, registering six goals and seven assists in just four games. It was only a matter of time before Drouin earned our weekly honors and, though he has yet to win any of his league's weekly or monthly awards this season, we suspect he's on the cusp of earning one of those distinctions as well.

Veteran Tyrell Eyes Return to Tampa

By Jeremy Houghtaling

At the end of training camp, Dana Tyrell was given the unfortunate news.

Despite more than 100 National Hockey League games to his credit, there was no room for Tyrell on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster. The speedy winger cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch for the third time in two years.

"It definitely doesn't feel good to be put on waivers, but that's a part of the business and a part of the game," Tyrell said. "I've been through it before, so I knew what to expect this year. It's nothing I'd want to go through again."

Landry Provides Crunch with Depth on Defense

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Charles Landry provides the Syracuse Crunch with something coach Rob Zettler believes is critical.

The defenseman, who has spent most of the last two seasons in the ECHL, gives the Crunch a dependable option in case of injury. Zettler knows what he can expect, even though Landry has played less than a dozen games in a Syracuse sweater.

"Whenever he's been in there and given the chance to play, he's played well," Zettler said. "He does nothing but be a professional out there."

Prospect of the Week: November 4, 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 November 4, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).

Anyone surprised?

Someone should tell Syracuse Crunch rookie Nikita Kucherov it’s not supposed to be this easy. Players aren’t supposed to average two points-per-game in their first 10 professional games, but after Kucherov averaged three points-per-game last week in three games, that’s exactly what he’s doing with 20 points (11 goals) in 10 games.

Lightning Organization Confident in Rookie Pro Paquette

By Jeremy Houghtaling

When Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler first made the decision to put Cedric Paquette in the lineup, he relied on what he had heard from scouts.

The Tampa Bay Lightning organization, which drafted Paquette in the fourth round in 2012, knew what they could expect from the gritty 6-1 forward fresh out of junior hockey, and knew he would able to jump right into the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals.

Superstitious Gudlevskis Making Most of Opportunities

By Jeremy Houghtaling

A few days after registering a shutout in his American Hockey League debut, Kristers Gudlevskis returned to the ice with a different look.

The mask emblazoned with blue stripes and the outline of a lightning bolt that he wore in his first three wins of the season was nowhere in sight as Gudlevskis dawned a more comfortable plain white helmet for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.

Like his mask, Gudlevskis is back to a blank slate. His 22-save shutout over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is history, and it's time to move forward.

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