Bolt Prospect of the Week

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 the week ending October 19 is … Ryan Zuhlsdorf, D, Sioux City Musketeers, USHL.

Has Al Murray done it again?

Murray, the Lightning’s director of amateur scouting, made a name for himself in the scouting community with the LA Kings and Team Canada, and most recently as the diamond-in-the-rough finding sleuth in charge of Lightning drafts. On his Lightning resumé are mid/late-rounders Cedric Paquette, Ondrej Palat, and Matt Peca. Will Ryan Zuhlsdorf be added to the list?

Zuhlsdorf, a puck-moving defenseman, was taken in the fifth round by Murray and the Lightning this past summer. He returned to his junior team in Sioux City for the season – his last before joining the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers next year.

As captain of the Musketeers, he probably expected better of his team this season than its 2-4 start, but things are starting to turn around.

Last week, after a 7-3 loss on Tuesday to Sioux Falls, the Musketeers shut out Kris Oldham and Omaha, 4-0, then beat Waterloo, 7-5, to even its record at 4-4. Zuhlsdorf had four assists and a plus-3 rating over the three games, including three helpers in Sunday’s win over the Black Hawks. He ws named the USHL Defenseman of the Week.

The USHL’s leader in points for a defenseman is also our Bolt Prospect of the Week.

Zuhlsdorf, who showed well at the Lightning’s post-draft development camp, was an all-rookie selection last year with Sioux City, the year after he helped Edina win a state championship in Minnesota with 12 points in 25 games.

He currently sits at seven points in eight games, which is second on the Sioux City scoring table. He had three goals and 22 points in 56 games last season to go with a plus-25 rating.

At 5’11”, the lefty defenseman projects as a possible two-way blueliner in the pros, but that’s a long way off. Zuhlsdorf will play 2-4 years at Minnesota before he turns pro. He’s a wait-and-see prospect who should excel in the open ice of NCAA play and make a smooth transition into the pros as he’ll be an older prospect when he steps into the AHL.

Step one to get there is having a solid year as captain of the Musketeers this season, and he’s certainly off to a good start.

Murray has given the Lightning the chance at another late-round gem, but time and development (and hard work from Zuhlsdorf) will tell how shiny that gem becomes.

BP Rank: Not ranked in top-25… yet.

(USHL photo)

Honorable Mention: Jonne Tammela, W, KalPa – Finland; Brayden Point, C, Moose Jaw – WHL; Dominik Masin, D, Peterborough – OHL (NHL contract signed).

Previous 2015-2016 Prospect of the Week winners:

October 12: Dennis Yan, W, (Shawinigan, QMJHL, Canada)
October 6: Mitchell Stephens, W, (Saginaw, OHL, Canada)
September 29: Matt Peca, C, (Tampa Bay, NHL, USA)