Bolt Prospects 2012-2013 Final/Supplemental Rankings
The golden age of the Lightning farm system continues. Despite the Syracuse Crunch's loss in the AHL's Calder Cup Finals, the Lightning organization can still boast arguably the finest prospect depth in the NHL. That depth is further bolstered by a 2013 NHL Entry Draft that saw the Lightning add a potential franchise player and also a player who was ranked by several scouting services in their top 15 prospects in the draft class. As of right now, it truly appears the Lightning may be set for a generation at the forward and goaltending positions. And, while there's still much work to be done on defense, it's no exaggeration to say the future has never been brighter. Indeed, Hockey Prospectus has even gone so far as to name the Lightning the top prospect system in the league, which is a true feather in the cap of an organization that was universally panned by the hockey media for player development just a half decade ago.
Bolt Prospects' 2013-2014 Final/Supplemental Rankings follow our websites rules for eligibility for prospects. Players 24 years or older on opening night of the Lightning's season (or what was supposed to be opening night prior to its cancellation due to the NHL lockout, in the case of this season) are considered overage prospects and are not eligible for the rankings. For that reason, a prospect like Riku Helenius isn't in the list. Additionally, skating prospects that have appeared in 41 NHL games in a single season or 82 career NHL games are no longer eligible for the list, which is why Brett Connolly is considered graduated and no longer in the rankings. For goaltenders, the bar is a little lower with 30 NHL decisions in a single season necessary for graduation and 41 NHL decisions in a career being the threshold to become a Bolt Prospects Alumni. Finally, all NCAA-based players remain eligible for the rankings regardless of age for the full duration of their college careers. There will be a quiz later.
Until then, please enjoy Bolt Prospects' 2013-2014 Final/Supplemental Rankings...
1.) LW Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL)
The new holder of the top spot in our rankings is this year's third overall pick, supremely gifted winger Jonathan Drouin of Halifax. Not since Steven Stamkos was drafted has there been this much excitement about a Lightning draftee, and with good reason. Drouin draws comparisons not just to current stars like Chicago's Patrick Kane and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, but some scouts even dare to draw comparisons to legends Denis Savard and Gilbert Perrault. Drouin is a triple threat offensively, almost equally adept with the puck as a shooter, passer, or stickhandler. His ability to handle the biscuit combined with his freakish east-west lateral skating ability puts huge pressure on the opposition, helping to make everyone else on his line better. Without the puck, Drouin has rare hockey sense and vision that allow him to stay ahead of the play and make him incredibly difficult to defend. He's not quite a finished product yet as, like most young players, he needs to continue to work on his upper body strength and his defensive zone coverage. But, Drouin's also known as a fiery competitor and one of the hardest workers in this year's draft class, so there's no concern he won't rise to the challenge. We expect him to be in the NHL this coming season, and with Jon Cooper's track record of developing young players, we expect him to start to really come into his own by the second half of the season. Drouin is a franchise player who will be a cornerstone in Tampa Bay for the next 15 years, and we suspect he'll be in the top 10-20 in the NHL in scoring for the bulk of that time. He's got that much talent.
2.) G Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa (RUS)
Checking in at #2 is Ufa netminder Andrey Vasilevskiy, a young man who many scouts consider to be the best young goaltending prospect in hockey today. Vasilevskiy combines good size, athleticism, positioning, and composure that are well beyond his years. After spending the first half of last season with Ufa's junior team, Vasilevskiy had a solid U20 World Junior Championships with Russia before being promoted to be the full-time backup with the big club in Ufa. The only downside for Vasilevskiy may be that, after his inability to cross the pond and play for Syracuse in the AHL this season, he may see limited starts for Ufa in the KHL this season. We hope that's not the case, or that Vasilevskiy at least moves to the VHL so he can still get starts against a higher level of competition. If he continues to develop, he's expected to be a Russian version of Montreal's Carey Price, and he should be Tampa Bay's starting netminder for a long, long time.
3.) W/C Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay (NHL)
It seems like ages since the Lightning's season ended, but we haven't forgotten about versatile, Swiss Army Knife-like forward Alex Killorn. The Harvard product not only solidified a spot on the Lightning roster after an early season callup, but he surpassed Cory Conacher on the depth chart, eventually leading to Conacher being swapped for netminder Ben Bishop. Killorn's got a solid, pro-style north-south game that he augments with surprising burst and stickhandling ability. He's never seen a shot he won't take and doesn't shy away from high traffic areas or taking the body. The comparable is veteran NHLer Brian Rolston, and with some of the incredible playmakers the Lightning have coming through the pipeline, Killorn could very well become a huge scoring line producer for the Lightning for many years to come.
4.) C Vladislav Namestnikov, Syracuse (AHL)
One of the real movers in our rankings this year is former first rounder Vladislav Namestnikov. After a quiet first half of the season, Namestnikov exploded down the stretch of the AHL regular season and became a key component in the Crunch's deep postseason run. Namestnikov's top assets are his quickness, world-class puckhandling ability, and vision. Put together, they help Namestnikov put huge amounts of pressure on opposing defenders, opening up creases in the offensive zone that Namestnikov promptly exploits with slick passing ability. When he was drafted, the Lightning compared Namestnikov to a poor man's Pavel Datsyuk, and he started to live up to that promise last year. He still likely needs another season in the AHL as he continues to build up his upper body strength and his pro-level experience, but we now see the feisty forward as a solid option to fill the second line center spot in Tampa Bay starting within the next 2 or 3 seasons.
5.) RW Richard Panik, Syracuse (AHL)
When Richard Panik first strode onto the ice for the Syracuse Crunch, then Head Coach Jon Cooper remarked that Panik was the most talented player he had ever coached. This season Panik started to take that talent and translate it into production, potting 22 goals and 41 points in 51 games with the Crunch and 5 goals and 9 points in 25 games worth of sparing ice time with the Lightning. Panik is an intriguing prospect who can play just about any style of game you want. With excellent burst and speed and bull-in-a-china-shop strength, he can play a power forward's game and maul defenders on the way to the front of the opposing cage. But, he also has sublime stickhandling ability and east-west lateral skating ability, allowing him to also play a finesse game too, when called for. If there's a downside to Panik's game right now it's his decision-making, as his talent sometimes overrides his common sense leading to painful turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones. Like many young forwards, his defensive coverage also still needs considerable improvement. But, all-in-all, comparisons to countryman Marian Hossa do look apt, and we think Lightning fans can pencil Panik into the lineup for next season.
6.) RW Nikita Kucherov, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
After failing to break through with CSKA's top team in the KHL, Nikita Kucherov surprised prospect-followers by crossing the pond last year to take his talents to the QMJHL. And, after a brief stop with the Quebec Remparts, he eventually made his way to Rouyn-Noranda and quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous forwards in the league by posting 26 goals and 53 points in just 27 games, which he followed up with 9 goals and 24 points in 14 postseason games before the Huskies were finally mowed down by Jonathan Drouin and the Halifax juggernaut in the QMJHL Finals. He and Drouin were two of a tiny number of players at or near two points-per-game during the season, and the thought of these two sharing the same line in the future should scare the NHL. Kucherov brings to the table world-class puck skills and well above average hockey sense and vision. He's also an excellent skater, although perhaps not with an elite top gear, and has a sniper's touch in and around the net. The Lightning wasted no time signing Kucherov and he is expected to develop his game with Syracuse in the AHL, giving the tantalizing possibility of Kucherov riding shotgun with fellow Russian Namestnikov with the Crunch. Kucherov was compared to Andrei Kostitsyn when he was drafted, but after his explosion in the QMJHL we believe his ceiling may well be much higher than first thought.
7.) D Radko Gudas, Syracuse (AHL)
Another big mover this year was defenseman Radko Gudas, who stole the mantle of the organization's top defenseman prospect and ran and hid with it. When he was drafted, Gudas was compared to former NHLer and world-class pest Darius Kasparaitis, but after a huge spike in his development we now think Gudas may have the upside to provide offensive production well in excess of what Kasparaitis managed in the NHL. Put aside the wicked open ice hits and willingness to mix it up with men twice his size and what really has us excited about Gudas is his mobility and a new-found confidence to carry the puck and jump into the play. With those positives and a laser slapshot in tow, we now think Gudas may have the upside to become a minute-eating blueliner who can log huge ice time on a top-two pair. To reach that potential, though, Gudas will need to learn to temper his game with the discipline to stay on the ice more and to recognize the proper times to jump up offensively so that he doesn't cost his team odd-man rushes.
8.) C Tyler Johnson, Syracuse (AHL)
You know your organization is deep when you have the AHL MVP at eighth in your rankings. Johnson followed-up a scintillating second half two seasons ago with a dominant season in the AHL where he scored 37 goals and 62 points in 62 games en route to being recognized as the league's top player. He also got his first taste of NHL action, posting 3 goals and 6 points in a 14-game trial with the Lightning. Johnson's biggest positives are his straight line speed and sniper's shot. He also adds value with advanced face-off ability that translated very well to the NHL during his callup. Put those pieces together and we believe you can also pencil Johnson into the Lightning lineup for next season. With the club thin at the center position, he will get the opportunity to prove whether or not he can overcome his slight size to become a scoring line center in the best league in the world. If he doesn't, though, his faceoff and penalty killing abilities may be the aspects of his game that keep him in the NHL as a feisty, speedy checking liner.
9.) RW Adam Erne, Quebec (QMJHL)
By the numbers, second round pick Adam Erne may have been one of the steals of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The Quebec Remparts winger was ranked in the top-15 by both THN and Red Line Report, but slipped all the way to the Lightning's second pick at 33. His positives are clear: Erne already has a man's strength, loves to drive the net, and has decent touch in around the net when he gets there. Even more enticing is Erne's surprising burst and speed. Men that wide shouldn't be able to move that fast. The negatives are equally clear, though, as rumors of poor work habits and lack of professionalism off the ice may well have been what dropped Erne out of the first round. However, if Erne grows up and starts to approach the game like a pro, he could become a very wealthy man in the NHL. A player with his talents playing on a team with playmakers like Drouin and Namestnikov could well score a tremendous number of goals at the NHL level.
10.) LW Ondrej Palat, Syracuse (AHL)
Ask any Bolt Prospects writer which prospect they're most proud of, and the consensus might be left winger Ondrej Palat. The former seventh round longshot has defied his critics and the odds en route to becoming one of the best all-around players in the AHL. When he came into the AHL, he carried a reputation for being a great passer with excellent vision and slick stickhandling skills. He was all that and more in leading the AHL in playoff scoring with 7 goals and 26 points in 18 postseason games with the Crunch this spring. That's not what will keep him in the NHL, though. What will keep him in the NHL is that he's developed a surprising willingness to compete physically and the versatility to be a contributor not just in offensive situations but also on the penalty kill and in the defensive third of the rink. Palat played with Johnson and Panik on the most dynamic line in the AHL over the past couple of seasons, and we could well see them playing together as a unit in the NHL this coming season.
11.) D Andrej Sustr, Syracuse (AHL)
Late season signee Andrej Sustr out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha took a little while to adjust to the pros, but by the end of the playoffs with the Syracuse Crunch he may have been one of the team's best defensemen. Standing at 6'8" tall, it's easy for fans to get hung up on the stereotype that Sustr should be a bone-crunching, Zdeno Chara clone. Not so. Sustr is a pure offensive defenseman who at times looks like a fourth forward on the ice keenly jumping up into the play. He's got the instincts to jump in at appropriate times, a missile for a shot that he gets through traffic, and the vision and passing ability to get the puck to the open man. Indeed, in the offensive third, Sustr may already be good enough to be an NHLer. Where his game needs work, though, is in the defensive third. Sustr looks a bit rushed with the puck in his own third when pressed by the forecheck, leading Sustr to often throw the puck away under duress. He also fails to use his big body to pin and seal forwards, possibly because of a lack of confidence in his skating. His first step definitely needs some work, although it should be said that Sustr's 9-10 foot wingspan does make him awfully difficult to beat off the rush. Lightning Head Scout Al Murray noted they believe Sustr is as good as a late first round pick, and we can see why.
12.) RW J.T. Brown, Syracuse (AHL)
It was, at times, a frustrating season for winger J.T. Brown. After looking like he might well make the NHL, the lockout and nagging injuries conspired to limit Brown to just 51 games in his rookie season in the AHL, where he posted a modest 10 goals and 28 points. His postseason performance, however, showed that the year may add dimensions to his game that will ultimately make him a better NHLer. In the playoffs, Brown played on a checking line with veterans Mike Angelidis and J.T. Wyman, providing an element of breakaway speed to the trio that made them a key unit for Head Coach Rob Zettler. That checking line experience may add a degree of versatility that will allow Brown to stick in the NHL the next time he gets a shot.
13.) D Slater Koekkoek, Windsor (OHL)
It was a second consecutive rough year for former first rounder Slater Koekkoek. After missing most of his draft season with a shoulder injury, Koekoek languished on a struggling, young Peterborough roster where rumors lingered about off-ice conflicts between the players and coaches. A mid-season trade to Windsor looked like it might be the elixir for Koekkoek, but a second shoulder injury promptly shut down the remainder of the blueliner's season. When healthy, Koekkoek is a plus athlete with above average puck skills and skating. Between that and a long frame that should allow Koekkoek to pack on some muscle, Koekkoek could become a minute-eating two-way defenseman. He was compared to the Blues Kevin Shattenkirk when he was drafted, but to reach that potential he needs to stay healthy and continue to mature as a player and a person on his way to the NHL.
14.) D Mark Barberio, Syracuse (AHL)
After being named the AHL's Best Defenseman two seasons ago, Mark Barberio looked like he was on the cusp of making the NHL. However, after a season that saw his point totals plummet by 19 points and his +/- plummet by 21 points, he's been surpassed by several prospects in the organization like Gudas and maybe Sustr. Barberio, frankly, looked lost in a 2 game trial with the Lightning late in the season and although he put up very good numbers with Syracuse in the postseason, there's much reason to question whether Barberio will make it in the NHL. The positives are there, particularly with regard to Barberio's hockey sense and ability to distribute the puck in the offensive third. But he still looks overwhelmed at times in the defensive third and he doesn't always compete physically along the wall. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, it's a critical year coming up for Barberio. His window is closing and the breakthrough needs to come sooner rather than later.
15.) W/C Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac (ECAC)
Blazing up our charts after a postseason that garnered considerable national attention is forward Matthew Peca. The spunky, undersized forward who very nearly became a Quebec Rempart two seasons ago (can you imagine him with Erne and Mikhail Grigorenko?), led his Bobcats club all the way to the NCAA Final, becoming one of the most dangerous threats in the college ranks off the rush in the process. Peca should be in the running for the Hobey Baker next season, and he's made waves with his speed and his sweet mitts and finishing ability. His work ethic, leadership, and willingness to go to the high traffic areas are what will keep him on the big club's radar, though.
16.) G Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava (RUS)
Netminder Jaroslav Janus stayed in the Lightning's consciousness despite departing North America to try his hand at the KHL. Playing in his home nation Slovakia for Bratislava, Janus earned a reputation as one of the Russian league's top young puck stoppers. Janus' sterling 2.17 GAA and .928 save percentage were good enough to encourage the Lightning to try to bring Janus back to the Syracuse Crunch this fall, but Janus looks destined to return to the KHL next season. He had a rough postseason with Bratislava and World Championships with Slovakia, but if he has another year like this past one in the KHL, expect the Lightning to make another run to bring the athletic Janus back into the fold.
17.) LW Brian Hart, Harvard (ECAC)
Adding to the Lightning's forward depth is Harvard power forward Brian Hart, who had an admirable freshman season with 5 goals and 18 points in 30 games. Hart already has a man-sized frame and strength and one of the harder shots you'll find in the NCAA ranks. His first step needs work, but above all what Hart really needs is experience against higher level competition. He'll get that over the next couple of seasons with Harvard while the Lightning wait for just the right time to bring Hart under NHL contract. When they do, we can only hope he ascends to the league as quickly as fellow Harvard alum Alex Killorn.
18.) C Tanner Richard, Syracuse (AHL)
Some people call an assist an "apple." We might dub it a "Tanner" after Swiss born centerman Tanner Richard posted 51 helpers in 52 games with Guelph of the OHL. He followed that up with 3 helpers in 8 games on an ATO with Syracuse at the end of the AHL regular season. Richard has good speed, obvious vision and passing ability, and surprising willingness to mix it up physically. In his rookie season, it'll be important for Richard to continue to mature physically and off the ice in his approach to the game. If he does, we feel he can become a solid third line center worthy of the comparisons to Tampa Bay's Valterri Filppula that he garnered when he was drafted by the Lightning.
19.) D Nikita Nesterov, Chelyabinsk (RUS)
At the tender age of 19-20 years old, Nesterov made a big leap this season by earning a regular spot with Chelyabinsk's KHL team. Between Nesterov's 35 games in Russia's top league and another U20 World Junior Championships where Nesterov was matched against other team's top lines, the Lightning decided the time was right to bring Nesterov to North America. With contract in hand, Nesterov will be a part of a Syracuse blueline with a distinctly Eastern European flavor next season. Nesterov is game physically, effectively pinning and sealing opposing forwards along the wall, and shows above average ability on breakout passes and on the point on the power play. The Lightning love his upside, although we have concerns about Nesterov's lack of size and upper body strength and his lack of foot speed and quickness one on one. He'll get to work on all those things with the Crunch next season.
20.) D Dmitry Korobov, Syracuse (AHL)
The man mentoring Nesterov and his other Eastern European brethren in Syracuse next year will likely be hard-nosed Belarusian defenseman Dmitry Korobov. After playing parts of three seasons in Russia's top league, the Lightning signed Korobov and put him into a top four role for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. He responded well with a very respectable AHL rookie season of 3 goals and 22 points in 65 games with a +20 rating. Korobov has good size and above average skating ability, and at times shows decent offensive upside, as well. Most encouragingly, Korobov uses his size and strength to dish out punishment along the wall and in front of his cage. We have some concerns about Korobov's footwork and there are times he looks a little stiff in his pivots, but all in all he looks like he is a solid role model for the youngsters in Syracuse who also can compete for #6 or #7 defenseman duty in the NHL.
21.)G Adam Wilcox, Minnesota (WCHA)
Starting off our final 10 is freshman phenom Adam Wilcox of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Coming off two years in the USHL spent backing up a veteran netminder in Green Bay and then playing behind a sub-par team in Tri-City, it was questionable what impact Wilcox would have in his first year in the NCAA. He came out of nowhere to post an extremely solid 1.88 GAA and .921 save percentage en route to earning several WCHA honors. Wilcox has good athleticism and plays an aggressive style coming out to challenge shooters and playing the puck in and around his cage. The best news of all, with regard to Wilcox, is that he still has three years of college eligibility giving him plenty of time to continue developing in a high-quality program with the Gophers. That means whenever the Lightning do pull the trigger and sign Wilcox, they're likely to get a very polished product.
22.)C Cedric Paquette, Syracuse (AHL)
One of the biggest compliments paid to any Syracuse prospect this past postseason was the decision of the coaching staff to bypass several more seasoned prospects to debut Cedric Paquette in the AHL Eastern Conference Finals. We affectionately have dubbed Paquette "Dump Truck" for his work rate and, unfortunately, his skating stride. The positives are considerable. Paquette is good on faceoffs and has the size and strength to cause havoc around the net and along the wall. With 58 goals over the past couple of seasons in the QMJHL, he's also a decent finisher around the net, to boot. The downside is obviously his skating where both his first step and his straight line speed are below what you'd want from a pro prospect. If he can improve in those areas, Dump Truck may roll to the NHL and conjure memories of former Bolt Prospects Alumni Ryan Craig, albeit a more ill-tempered version.
23.) G Kristers Gudlevskis, Riga (RUS)
Latvian netminder Kristers Gudlevskis is the last of the 2013 draftees to make the top-25 of our rankings. The big, athletic netminder finds himself in a potentially plum spot with the Lightning, roster-wise, with the team not entirely sold on its AHL options going into the season and Vasilevskiy still in Russia playing with Ufa. Does that mean Gudlevskis will be coming to North America to assume Pat Nagle's former spot as the #5 netminder in the organization? We'll see. If he does, Kristers will show an aggressive, angle-cutting style that has allowed him to have impressive showings for Latvia at several junior and men's tournaments over the past few years.
24.) D Luke Witkowski, Syracuse (AHL)
With Radko Gudas likely headed to Tampa Bay, it was important for Syracuse to fill their awesome beard quota. That and the heady, stay-at-home play of Luke Witkowski led to the Lightning signing the big defenseman at the end of his college season with Western Michigan. Witkowski is a solid, efficient blueliner with outstanding leadership skills. He doesn't panic under heavy forecheck and is good at pinning and sealing opposing forwards along the wall. Nothing flashy, although we suspect there may be some opportunities for Witkowski to show a little bit more offense in Syracuse's system as opposed to the more buttoned-up WMU style under former NHL bench boss Andy Murray.
25.)W/C Jimmy Mullin, Miami-OH (CCHA)
At 25 is Miami of Ohio forward Jimmy Mullin, who struggled through a sophomore slump that saw him put up 12 less points than his freshman campaign and see time on the lower lines. Maybe Mullin, who was a dynamic offensive force for Shattuck St. Mary's and USHL Fargo before coming to the Redhawks, was a victim of expectations set by such an incredible maiden voyage in NCAA hockey. Whatever the reason, though, we expected Mullin to be a lot closer to his freshman production. Why? Mullin has exceptional speed and skill and put up over a point a game in the USHL, which is a very defensive-minded league. So, we know he has the talent to be a big-time offensive producer. Hopefully he'll get back on track as a junior, with the clock ticking and just two more years to convince the Lightning to give Mullin a contract.
26.) D Dylan Blujus, Brampton (OHL)
Laying in the weeds of our rankings is former 2nd round draft pick Dylan Blujus of Brampton/North Bay. Blujus had a solid, albeit unspectacular year with the Battalion and his ranking is more a reflection on the incredible depth in the Lightning organization than an indictment of the season he had. The big, mobile defenseman quietly went about his business nearly replicating his draft year production, and is a sound enough prospect that he has been invited to Team USA's junior development camp. All that said, it's a big year for Blujus with a contract on the line. And, as a righty shot defenseman in an organization with a distinct lack of blue chip defensemen prospects, Blujus can move up in a hurry if he starts to really climb the development curve.
27.) D Artem Sergeev, Syracuse (AHL)
Another defenseman with the potential to move up is rangy power play specialist Artem Sergeev, who completed his junior career with Val-d'Or with a career-best 39 points in 55 games to go along with an appearance for Team Russia at the U20 World Junior Championships. Like Blujus, Sergeev is mobile and possesses the ever-coveted righty shot. Sergeev got in one regular season game with Syracuse during an ATO at the end of the regular season, and he'll likely form one quarter of a very Eastern European-flavored blueline with the Crunch next season with Sustr, Korobov, and Nesterov.
28.) LW Nikita Gusev, Khabarovsk (RUS)
Another prospect who is capable of rising quickly and is definitely worth keeping an eye on is Nikita Gusev of Khabarovsk. A quick waterbug with supreme hockey sense and a laser shot, Gusev was a long-time linemate of fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov in the CSKA organization and on Russia's junior squads. This season, Gusev failed to crack CSKA's KHL team during the lockout and after a stint with their VHL team was moved to fringe KHL outpost Khabarovsk for a first round pick. No matter where he's been, though, whether it be the MHL, VHL, or Khabarovsk, Gusev has shown he can put up points. The question is whether he can compete against grown men in the physical game and whether the defensive side of his game will come around. If it does, expect the Lightning to get Gusev over to North America at some point soon to join their Russian invasion.
29.) LW Henri Ikonen, Kingston (OHL)
One of the real bright spots on a youthful Kingston team this season was Finnish winger Henri Ikonen, who led the team in scoring with 22 goals and 51 points in 61 games. That was good enough for the Lightning to take a chance on the 19-year-old overage draftee, whose work ethic and all-around game may resemble a poor-man's version of former Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim. Word on the street was that Ikonen was set to return to Finland to play for KalPa in the SM-liiga this coming season, but it has since been learned that Ikonen will, in fact, be returning to Kingston next year. That's good for the youthful Frontenacs and good for the Lightning, who get to see one of their young prospects get plenty of ice time to develop next season.
30.) LW Philippe Paradis, Syracuse (AHL)
Rounding out our top-30 is big power forward prospect Philippe Paradis. A former first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, Paradis was quietly acquired from the Blackhawks near the end of the regular season for the rights to former Lightning draft pick Kirill Gotovets to help fill the role formerly occupied by P.C. Labrie with the Crunch. Paradis filled the role pretty well in 8 regular season games before suiting up for the majority of Syracuse's playoff games, including a series-clinching rout of Wilkes-Barre Scranton where Paradis displayed a shockingly sharp and accurate quick release en route to a hat trick. Scoring isn't Paradis' ticket to the NHL, though. What may be his ticket is that he hits everything that moves and is a far more competent skater than Labrie. Given the distinct lack of lumberjacks in the Lightning organization, and Head Coach Jon Cooper's insistence that the team have a physical edge, this may put Paradis in an advantageous position to find his way into the league sooner rather than later.