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Prospect of the Week: 1-14-15

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

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for January 14, 2014 is … Brendan O’Donnell, University of North Dakota (NCAA – USA).

Brendan O’Donnell is exhibit-A for why teams spend a late round draft pick on an under-the-radar high school or junior-A player and then allow them extended development time in college.

The Lightning’s 2010 sixth round pick from the Winnipeg South Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is now a senior at the University of North Dakota. After playing in Penticton of the BCHL the season after he was drafted, and then a mostly injury-plagued career with UND, the 6-foot, 193-pound left wing turned the proverbial corner late last year in his development. He continued that into the Lightning’s summer prospect camp, where he was one of the standouts in front of his potential future bosses.

A lot was expected of O’Donnell as a senior leader with UND this season as he was to be in more of an offensive role than previous years. Things didn’t start out as fast as he may have liked, but like his collegiate career, it took some time for things to come together.

Rookie Defenseman Blujus Making Progress in Syracuse


By Jeremy Houghtaling

While Dylan Blujus broke through for his first goal last week, his real strides have come in his own zone.

With an increase in ice time due to injuries and call-ups, the defenseman has started to find his groove with the Syracuse Crunch. Head coach Rob Zettler has seen steady progress in Blujus' game since he made his professional debut nearly three months ago.

"I would say over the last month, (Blujus) has been a much better defenseman, meaning he's going back for pucks more confidently and he's not as prone to get rid of pucks as quickly," Zettler said of the Buffalo native. "The beginning of the year, he'd get back and rim it around the boards and it would [cause] a cluster in our end for a little while because of it. He's just being a little bit more patient with the puck and smarter with the puck."

The BoltProspects Podcast, Volume 14

This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· Replacing Gudas – options inside and outside the organization
· Midseason surprises and disappointments
· Interview with Luke Witkowski
· BP Mailbag (Most expendable player … FA defensemen … Why are the Triplets successful? … Yandle to TB? … DeAngelo’s timeline)
· Prospects of the Week

Click here to listen

To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.

Prospect of the Week: 1-7-14

After a nice holiday break, we continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for January 7, 2014 is … Cameron Darcy, Center, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL – Canada).

There are turnarounds, then there's what Lightning prospect Cam Darcy is doing.

Darcy’s story is well known – he was intent on getting a pro contract last fall, but the Lightning sent him back to juniors for an overage year so he could get stronger. The South Boston native didn’t produce anywhere close to the level that made him a second team all-star with Cape Breton last year and eventually the Eagles had to move on. Darcy was traded to Sherbrooke, where he suddenly found his game again.

Witkowski Focusing on Play Instead of Promotion


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Luke Witkowski isn't sitting idly by waiting for the phone to ring.

The Syracuse defenseman, one of the last players cut from Tampa Bay Lightning training camp who earned a short call-up in October but didn't play, isn't worried about when he will have the opportunity to make his NHL debut. Even with the Lightning's blueline being banged up, Witkowski is focused on his game and doing what he can to help the Crunch.

"I'm not really worried about that right now," Witkowski said of the possibility of a promotion.

Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler has seen progress in Witkowski's second professional season.

The BoltProspects Podcast, Volume 13

This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The emergence of Sustr and Barberio
· World Junior snub
· BP Mailbag (Early 2015 TB draft strategy … 2017 Stanley Cup Game 1 line rushes and D pairs … On the trade block … Kunyk’s place in the organization)
· Junior prospect’s turnaround

Click here to listen

To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.

Stop a Goalie Controversy Before it Starts

As far as Lightning prospect watching goes, outside of a Calder Cup it’s hard to top the past week.

Our top-rated prospect, Jonathan Drouin, was finally freed, taking the left wing spot on Tampa Bay’s top line next to Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. Drouin was also promoted to the top power play unit, though “promoted” could be interpreted as a reply to an S.O.S. signal that didn’t include red lights.

Then there’s 19-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Our No. 2 prospect made his NHL debut with a stellar performance in Philadelphia, allowing an early, no-chance deflection goal. On Saturday, Vasilevskiy put on a cape and turned in one of the best goaltending performances in Lightning history, stopping 45 of 47 shots in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Islanders. Lightning skaters had the best seats in the house for Vasy’s show and did their fair share of watching.

The BoltProspects Podcast, Volume 12

This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· Analyzing Vasilevskiy's debut
· Taylor Hall trade rumors
· Interview with Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis
· BP Mailbag (More on TB goaltending future, KHL fallout, Artem Sergeev status update)
· TB prospect World Juniors preview

Click here to listen

To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.

Previous BP Podcast editions:

Angelidis Leading Syracuse's Charge Back to Postseason


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Mike Angelidis battled for space with a couple players on the blue line and bolted for the front of the net.

The puck rebounded off Utica netminder Joacim Eriksson, bounced right to Angelidis’ skate, and into the back of the net. The Crunch captain’s 10th goal of the season tied the game with a little more than two minutes left in regulation, and Syracuse went on to win its sixth-straight in overtime Saturday night.

It was the ultimate example of Angelidis’ play -- a clutch play, albeit not flashy, when the Crunch needed it the most. The 29-year-old’s ability to lead by example has put Syracuse in second place in the Northeast Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Prospect of the Week: 12-15-14

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

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for December 15, 2014 is … Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Syracuse Crunch (AHL – USA).

Who are we to argue with the American Hockey League?

The league named Lightning goaltender prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy the CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Monday before we even had a chance to vote on our Prospect of the Week. The early bird gets the proverbial worm, so we’ll just go ahead and agree with the AHL on this one.

Not that we would’ve disagreed.

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