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Articles that are feature stories.

Lightning North American Juniors Preview

North American Juniors Preview

For the second year in a row, the Lightning won’t have any drafted prospects in the Western Hockey League. This is odd, considering the physical WHL is regarded as one of, if not the best junior league for developing NHL talent. While Guy Boucher may favor the QMJHL and Steve Yzerman the OHL, the Lightning’s Head Scout, Al Murray, is based in Saskatchewan – WHL territory. Also, for the first time in a while, the club doesn't have a prospect in the United States Hockey League.

The Bolts have seven prospects in Canadian juniors this season:

Lightning Minor Pro Preview: Centers

The Syracuse Crunch will open training camp on September 28 with more talent than they originally expected. The NHL lockout forced the postponement of the Lightning’s training camp and subsequently meant all prospects and young NHLers expected to start the year in Tampa will now start the year in the AHL.

Lost in this situation is the opportunity to have out-of-nowhere stories like Cory Conacher or Brett Connolly last year or perhaps most famously, Dmitri Afanasenkov in 2003.

While that’s bad news for the Tampa Bay media and fans, it’s good news for the Syracuse fan base, who at this point is like a kid with a birthday the day after Christmas. Not only does a championship team show up at their arena’s front door, now they get a significant upgrade in talent to a team that was already expected to compete for a championship.

This is also good news for the Florida Everblades – another team coming off a championship – as they’ll get the players pushed down from Syracuse.

The question is who?

Here’s a look at the latest minor pro organizational roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning and some notes and predictions for each player, broken down by position.

Today: Centers

Lightning Minor Pro Preview: Defensemen

The Syracuse Crunch will open training camp on September 28 with more talent than they originally expected. The NHL lockout forced the postponement of the Lightning’s training camp and subsequently meant all prospects and young NHLers expected to start the year in Tampa will now start the year in the AHL.

Lost in this situation is the opportunity to have out-of-nowhere stories like Cory Conacher or Brett Connolly last year or perhaps most famously, Dmitri Afanasenkov in 2003.

While that’s bad news for the Tampa Bay media and fans, it’s good news for the Syracuse fan base, who at this point is like a kid with a birthday the day after Christmas. Not only does a championship team show up at their arena’s front door, now they get a significant upgrade in talent to a team that was already expected to compete for a championship.

This is also good news for the Florida Everblades – another team coming off a championship – as they’ll get the players pushed down from Syracuse.

The question is who?

Here’s a look at the latest minor pro organizational roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning and some notes and predictions for each player, broken down by position.

Today: Defensemen

Lightning Minor Pro Preview: Goaltenders

The Syracuse Crunch will open training camp on September 28 with more talent than they originally expected. The NHL lockout forced the postponement of the Lightning’s training camp and subsequently meant all prospects and young NHLers expected to start the year in Tampa will now start the year in the AHL.

Lost in this situation is the opportunity to have out-of-nowhere stories like Cory Conacher or Brett Connolly last year or perhaps most famously, Dmitri Afanasenkov in 2003.

While that’s bad news for the Tampa Bay media and fans, it’s good news for the Syracuse fanbase, who at this point is like a kid with a birthday the day after Christmas. Not only does a championship team show up at their arena’s front door, now they get a significant upgrade in talent to that team - a team that was already expected to compete for a championship.

This is also good news for the Florida Everblades – another team coming off a championship – as they’ll get the players pushed down from Syracuse.

The question is who?

Here’s a look at the latest minor pro organizational roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning and some notes and predictions for each player, broken down by position.

Complete 2011-2012 Lightning Player Usage Charts

For many, including myself, the 2011-2012 Player Usage Charts [PDF] released by Robert Vollman (and friends) have proven invaluable, as the foreword suggests, for putting "last year’s player production into context". Based on zone start and quality of competition data, these charts help us to see how a team's players were utilized by their coach in relation to each other.

The following graphic helps interpret the significance of a player's bubble (the size of which reflects his Relative Corsi, blue being a positive value and white a negative value) on a team's chart:

Again, Clare Austin of Raw Charge has already done an excellent job assessing the Lightning's player usage last season under coach Guy Boucher based on the Hockey Abstract charts. However, these excluded all players with less than 10 games played which meant that Mike Angelidis (6 games), J.T. Brown (5 games) and Evan Oberg (3 games) were not shown on the Lightning's chart.

Regardless of the extremely small sample sizes, it seemed worthwhile to generate usage charts that included them, even if only for the sake of a little extra discussion:

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