Nearly six months have passed since the last Syracuse Crunch regular season game.
One season removed from a Calder Cup playoff run that lasted well into June, the offseason began after the final horn at the Onondaga County War Memorial April 19. For Crunch coach Rob Zettler, who coached in the 2013 finals and spent the bulk of the ensuing offseason hiring a new coaching staff, the extended summer gave him time to reflect.
"This year it was too much time," Zettler said. "A lot of time to think about it."
One day removed from a 3-1 victory over French league club team in Lyon, France, Syracuse fell 6-0 to the Binghamton Senators today. Kristers Gudlevskis was in net for Syracuse. The team awaits final Lightning roster cuts expected to come down Monday or Tuesday before they head into the regular season.
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 –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Brenden Morrow to a one-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Tampa Bay also signed forward Philippe Paradis (pair-ah-DEE) to a one-year, two-way contract.
Morrow, 6-foot, 205 pounds, played in 71 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14, recording 13 goals and 25 points with a plus-1 rating. He scored four power-play goals and three game-winning goals. Morrow ranked eighth on the team for goals and averaged 11:54 in ice time per game.
A native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, Morrow is a veteran of 921 NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Blues. He has accumulated 262 goals, 567 points and is a plus-108. He is a seven-time 20-goal scorer and has reached the 30-goal plateau on two occasions. He served as the captain of the Stars from 2006 until he was traded to Pittsburgh during the 2012-13 season. Morrow has appeared in 94 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, notching 19 goals and 46 points.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jerome Samson to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Samson, 26, skated in 68 games with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League last season, recording 27 goals and 56 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the IceCaps and 12th in the AHL for power-play tallies with 11. The Greenfield Park, Quebec native ranked second on St. John’s for goals and was third for points. He also appeared in 17 AHL postseason games last season, posting three goals and six points, helping the IceCaps reach the Calder Cup Finals.
The 6-foot, 195-pound forward has skated in 46 career NHL games, all with the Carolina Hurricanes over parts of three seasons, notching two goals and nine points. Samson recorded an assist in his NHL debut on January 7, 2010 against the Nashville Predators. He registered his first career NHL goals during the 2011-12 season while playing for the Hurricanes.
The undrafted forward has skated in 424 career AHL games with the IceCaps, Charlotte Checkers and Albany River Rats, posting 160 goals and 336 points to go along with 306 penalty minutes. Samson was named to the AHL First All-Star Team following the 2009-10 season after he posted 37 goals and 78 points while playing for Albany
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Cody Kunyk to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Kunyk, 24, made his NHL debut with the Lightning on April 13 at Washington, logging 10:12 in ice time. He was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent on March 20, 2014.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta native skated in 37 games for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks last season, posting 22 goals and 43 points to go along with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-13 rating. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound forward led the Nanooks for goals, points, power-play goals (six) and shorthanded goals (two). Kunyk was named the WCHA's Player of the Year and to the First Team All-WCHA team. He also led the WCHA for scoring during the 2013-14 season.
Kunyk skated in 148 games over four seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, amassing 60 goals and 133 points. He set career highs his senior year for goals, assists (21) and points. Kunyk became the 30th Nanook in program history to join the 100-point club with a goal on November 22, 2013.
Despite no official release by the organization, the Tampa Bay Lightning have apparently signed defenseman Matt Corrente to a one-year, two-way contract per the player's twitter account and corroborated by capgeek.com. Corrente, a 6'0" 205 lbs right-handed defenseman, is a another depth signing in a recent trend of acquisitions that include
The Carolina Hurricanes signed Corrente last summer and he spent the entire season playing for team's AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers, leading the team in penalty minutes with 136. Corrente was a 1st round pick in the 2006 draft by the New Jersey Devils and spent 5 seasons in that organization, amassing 34 games with New Jersey and another 163 games with their AHL affiliate Albany Devils.
Corrente will join Jean-Philippe Cote and Joey Mormina in anchoring a veteran presence on the Syracuse blueline that sports a young crop of defensive prospects slated to include Luke Witkowski, Nikita Nesterov, Artem Sergeev, Slater Koekkoek, Dylan Blujus, and Jake Dotchin.
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Mike Blunden to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Blunden, 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, played in seven games with the Montreal Canadiens in 2013-14. He spent the majority of the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League with 18 goals and 37 points. Blunden ranked third on the Bulldogs for points and second for goals.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Blunden has appeared in 102 NHL games with Montreal, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. He has recorded four goals and eight points during his NHL career, which also includes one playoff game with the Canadiens in 2013. Blunden has played in 379 career AHL games with Hamilton, the Syracuse Crunch, Rockford IceHogs and Norfolk Admirals, posting 83 goals and 187 points.
Blunden was drafted by Chicago in the second round, 43rd overall, at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Mike Angelidis to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Angelidis, 29, skated in 75 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League last season, recording 12 goals and 33 points to go along with 161 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Crunch for penalty minutes and fifth for points. Angelidis has been captain of the Crunch since the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
The Woodbridge, Ontario native has skated in seven career NHL games, all with the Lightning, posting one goal and five penalty minutes. Angelidis scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL debut on January 24, 2012 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.