The NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency Frenzy are tiny blips in the rearview mirror and the next event – the Nashville prospects tournament – is still a few weeks away (and we’ll be there). August is the low-point of the hockey year and the Bolt Prospects staff has been using this lull to re-charge their batteries in preparation for another long season of daily reports and constant updates and commentary.
Editor’s Note: Batteries is a figurative term. We’re not robots, though we feel like it sometimes.
The prospects themselves are hard at work preparing for the season and/or dumping ice buckets over their respective heads for a good cause. Some, like Jonathan Drouin, have aspirations to make the big club. Others, like Daniel Milan, are hoping to stay in the organization beyond this season.
It’s time to take a look at who’s trending in what direction as camp approaches. The great part about hockey, and especially developmental hockey – is this is subject to change. There are few things more exciting than watching someone turn their career around. This is the Afanasenkov Rule. You never know.
The following 4-part series includes current prospects and players that started last season as prospects who remain in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
Tampa Bay Lightning 50-man Organizational Roster for 2014-2015 (contract status via @capgeek):
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Ben Bishop to a two-year contract extension today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Bishop, 6-foot-7, 214 pounds, posted a 37-14-7 record last season in 63 games. He also recorded a .924 save percentage and a 2.23 goals-against average. He ranked fourth in the NHL for games played and wins, as well as seventh for save percentage and goals-against average. Bishop’s five shutouts placed fifth in the NHL and were the second-most ever posted in franchise history. He set Lightning single season records for wins, save percentage and goals-against average. Bishop set the franchise mark for most saves in a game on January 19 at Carolina with 48. His 1,625 saves were the second most in a season by a Lightning goaltender. His successful season led to a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the player voted to be the league’s best netminder.
Written by Pete Choquette (@jollymeangiant)
The dog days of summer find us in a rare lull on the calendar here on Bolt Prospects between the ending of Lightning rookie camp and the start of annual prospect tournaments and training camp. What better opportunity to take the time to examine how the Lightning's 2014 draft class figures into our rankings? With that in mind, here's our 2013-2014 Supplemental Prospect Rankings, the final round of rankings before the 2014-2015 season.
The 2014 NHL Entry Draft offered a tremendous opportunity for the Tampa Bay Lightning to replenish a prospect system that has been depleted by the mass graduation of well over a half a dozen prospects that moved up from the AHL to NHL level last season. Some of the finest prospects in the land still held down the top spots in the rankings, but there was a considerable vacuum behind the top half dozen or so spots. With three picks in the coveted top-60 of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the team held three golden tickets to begin to restock and reload. The Lightning used those picks to select three defensemen, addressing the most obvious deficiency in their prospect pipeline. Will the needs-based approach to drafting pay off, or will the shift in philosophy this year backfire on the club? Time will tell.
Before we start with the rankings, it's time to once again review the rules of the rankings. Players under 24 years of age on opening night of the 2013-2014 NHL season were eligible for the rankings. Older prospects are considered overage prospects for the purposes of the website (sorry, J.P. Cote). Any skater prospect with 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games is considered graduated on the website. Any goaltender with 30 or more decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions is also considered graduated. Lastly, NCAA prospects are exempt from the 24 year-old cutoff for the duration of their college careers.
Got it? There will be a quiz later. With that out of the way, let's begin...
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Richard Panik to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Panik, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, played in 50 games with Tampa Bay last season, recording three goals and 13 points. He also played in 13 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League in 2013-14. With the Crunch he accumulated three goals and 11 points. Panik also played in two games during the Lightning’s Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A native of Martin, Slovakia, Panik has appeared in 75 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, with eight goals and 22 points. He won the AHL’s Calder Cup Championship with the Norfolk Admirals in 2012. Panik represented his native Slovakia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and skated in four games.
Panik was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round, 52nd overall, at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.