Features

Articles that are feature stories.

Namestnikov Eyes January Return


By Jeremy Houghtaling

For a second-straight season, Vladislav Namestnikov spent most of December watching from the stands.

After getting off to more than a point per game pace, the Syracuse Crunch center had his sophomore season interrupted when he required surgery on his left hand, which was broken from blocking a shot against Hamilton at the Bell Centre in Montreal Nov. 22. The 21-year-old is now counting the days until he can return to the lineup.

"I'm even hungrier now," Namestnikov said. "I just want to get back as soon as possible. I can't wait."

Prospect of the Week: December 17, 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 December 9-15, 2013 is … Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).

There comes a point in every NHLer’s rookie season where things start to slow down for him. The pace of the game steadies, reads are made quicker, and suddenly the player’s confidence is at a familiar level to him, which usually equals increased production.

Lightning fans are seeing the evolution of Tyler Johnson as an NHLer right before their eyes. Johnson made his debut last season and started this year with Tampa Bay, but only in the last few weeks has he started to look like the real Tyler Johnson – smart, savvy, speedy, and consistently on the scoresheet.

Familiar Face Devos Unsure of Future


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Signed to a tryout deal last month, Philip-Michael Devos joined the Syracuse Crunch with no idea about the length of his stay.

A Calder Cup champion with the Lightning's affiliate in Norfolk, Devos spent all of last season with the Crunch and played all 18 playoff games on Syracuse's run to the Calder Finals. He was not re-signed in the offseason and ended up with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, but with the injury bug taking bites out of the Crunch lineup, Tampa Bay looked for a familiar face to fill in.

"We brought him up because he could be a useful player for us," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler of Devos. "He can play in all kinds of different situations, and what we liked was that he's familiar with how we play, and he's familiar with our guys and our culture. He seamlessly fit right in."

Prospect of the Week: December 10, 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 December 2-8, 2013 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).

The most underappreciated prospect in the Lightning system in recent years is finally getting the attention he deserves. Ondrej Palat, a seventh round pick of the Lightning in 2011, has been a coach’s dream since he forced his way onto AHL Norfolk’s roster in 2011 when the Lightning though he’d return to QMJHL Drummondville. He’s been an integral part of Norfolk, Syracuse, and now Tampa Bay ever since.

Palat is a do-it-all player who thinks the game at another level than most young players. Most times that description refers to offensive vision, but Palat’s is a big-picture, coach-like ability to read the game. His responsibility level is off the charts and he has the skating, size, and skill to fit in on any line.

Korobov Climbing Organizational Ladder


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dmitry Korobov got the call he had been waiting for -- from teammate Vlad Namestnikov.

Korobov, the hard-hitting Belarusian on the Syracuse Crunch blueline, was having phone troubles, so the message from Crunch coach Rob Zettler about Korobov's first National Hockey League call-up arrived through Namestnikov.

"I was a little shocked, happy, and nervous at the same time," Korobov said through Namestnikov, who helped translate. "Mostly happy."

After playing one game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, being sent back to the Crunch, and making the round trip again, Korobov got a taste of what he came to North America for. Now he’s working to earn more of those calls -- no matter who they’re from -- and eventually a permanent role in the NHL.

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