Tampa Bay Lightning
This week 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.
This week’s winner, as we say on Twitter, “is good at the hockey.”
The Prospect of the Week for November 26 is … Tyler Johnson, center, Syracuse (AHL – USA)
Tyler Johnson doesn’t get the most attention on the Syracuse roster, that title may go to everything-award winner Cory Conacher, top AHL defenseman Mark Barberio, or even everything-championship winner Dustin Tokarski. Such is the “first world problem” Tyler Johnson and his fans must endure with the near embarrassment of riches on the Lightning farm right now.
Orlando Solar Bears 0 @ Gwinnett Gladiators 1
F B.J. Crombeen, ORL: Did not play
Season totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Hannu Toivonen stopped 25 of 26 for Orlando but Mike Lee was perfect in net with 22 saves for Gwinnett, allowing the Gladiators to edge past the Solar Bears Thanksgiving night. Gwinnett defenseman Cody Brookwell had the game's lone goal, which he scored early in the first period when he found a shooting lane and fired a shot that made it through traffic and into the net. Locked-out Lightning forward B.J. Crombeen, who signed with Orlando last week, hasn't played since Sunday's home game against Kalamazoo. Orlando (8-7-3, 19 PTS) and league powerhouse Gwinnett (13-4-1, 27 PTS), which currently enjoys a four-point lead at the top of the South division, play the tail end of a back-to-back Friday night.
UPDATE: Crombeen was released from his tryout contract with the Solar Bears.
We're now almost two months deep into the second NHL lockout in less than a decade. As difficult as it is to remember, though, hockey goes on. It goes on in small junior rinks in Canada and on campuses throughout the U.S. It goes on in the sporting halls of Sweden and Russia. And, it goes on in Syracuse, New York, where players on the cusp of making the highest level of hockey in the world patiently await the mere chance to make their case to play in the NHL. For those players, and in spite the cynical greed of the NHL's business wing, Bolt Prospects presents its 2012-2013 Preliminary Rankings.
We delayed the release of the rankings a few weeks when optimism ran high that hockey would be back after Thanksgiving, believing that perhaps an NHL training camp was in the cards for some of our prospects. But with the breakdown of talks between the commissioner and the NHLPA, it looks like a Lightning camp is far from imminent. So, we press forward, in spite of the setback.
Despite the large void the NHL lockout created, the hockey season is already long underway. Various amateur and professional leagues throughout North America and Europe have wrapped up their preseasons and are set to begin or are already in the thick of regular season action.
The Lightning's new AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, open their 2012-2013 season tonight with an impressive roster that boasts the nucleus of last season's Calder Cup-winning roster and an infusion of talent with varying professional experience: (J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Danick Gauthier, Riku Helenius, Dmitry Korobov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Jared Nightingale, Matt Taormina and J.T. Wyman). In the absence of big-league action, watching much of the (currently foreseeable) lifeblood of the Lightning's future skate and bond together is a much-welcomed tonic.
Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy reports Lightning prospect goaltender Jaroslav Janus has signed a two-year contract with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League. Janus had been on a tryout agreement with the club.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times confirmed the 2-year contract with Janus' agent. The agent told Cristodero that Janus has an out clause next summer should he wish to return to North America.
The fourth-year pro went to Europe looking for a No.1 goaltending position after being nudged out of the Lightning's AHL plans when Tampa Bay signed goalies Anders Lindback and Riku Helenius. Lindback in Tampa with Mathieu Garon keeps Dustin Tokarski in the AHL and Helenius takes Janus' spot as Tokarski's tandem partner.
The Lightning encouraged Janus' move to Europe as it will give him the best chance for more playing time – which is exactly what he needs at this point in his development. The club made it clear they continue to view Janus, 22, as a legitimate NHL prospect. The Lightning are scheduled to get Garon off the books next year, opening up a possible spot for Helenius, Tokarski, or Janus.