After skating in a red practice jersey Tuesday, Richard Panik reiterated his intentions -- he came to play.
In his first game of the season with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday, the 6-3 Slovakian winger posted an assist before absorbing a thundering check by the Hershey Bears’ Tyson Strachan. Panik quickly got up from the hit, and instead of taking the game off Sunday to rest and recuperate an apparent upper body injury, he was back on the ice against the Sound Tigers Sunday.
“He gamed it out against Bridgeport,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.
Is the party starting to wind down? With the Lightning transitioning to a more youthful team and injuries forcing more call-ups than originally anticipated, our Bolt Prospects Midterm Rankings will take on a decidedly different feel. With the likes of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Radko Gudas becoming full-time NHLers, the list seems a little thinner this time around. Still, this year's Midterm list is still top-heavy with some of the finest NHL prospects you'll find anywhere in the land. With several other prospects very close to graduating from prospect status on the site, though, and the next wave of prospects struggling a bit in Syracuse, now is an excellent time for readers to reflect on what an amazing past couple of years the Lightning pipeline has had. From Norfolk's record-breaking winning streak and Calder Cup championship to the Syracuse Crunch's Eastern Conference crown and Tyler Johnson's emergence as a Calder Trophy candidate in the NHL, these were good days the likes of which don't come around often. Appreciate them.
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 January 27, 2014 is … Dylan Blujus, D, North Bay Battalion (OHL – Canada).
Long ago the great philosopher Hugh Anthony Cregg III stated, “If this is it, please let me know.”
Perhaps you remember him by his stage name, Huey Lewis. We aren’t sure if he was ever informed if “it” was indeed love or not, but we’re going to borrow his inquisitive statement for this week’s Prospect of the Week, Dylan Blujus.
Jordan Henry is no stranger to Syracuse.
The 27-year-old defenseman spent parts of six seasons in the American Hockey League, including three with the Crunch’s rival, the Rochester Americans. For Henry, the Onondaga County War Memorial has been the site of plenty of fight-filled rivalry games.
“We played a million games here it seems like,” Henry said, then motioning to the opposing team’s entrance. “I played a lot of games from that side and coming out that door.”
But now, Syracuse is Henry’s home. The 6-2 Alberta native, who played two games on a tryout deal with the Crunch in November, was signed to a standard players contract Jan. 8.
The BP Mailbag continues this week with more questions for my Alex Kharitonov-sized crystal ball (prospect followers from the Dudley era will understand that reference).
If you believe the rumors that Tommy Pyatt is being shopped, that’s how a roster spot opens up for Stamkos. I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Pyatt waived if Tampa Bay is backed into a corner, but right now I’m of the opinion that Richard Panik would be the one to go down to Syracuse if someone is demoted. Panik’s averaging about 12 minutes of ice time for the year, but around 10 for the last five games and less than that if you spread it out over the last dozen games. He’s also been a frequent healthy scratch. Those are the signs, and they've been there for a while.