NCAA Game Night: 3-24-13
While there were no Lightning NCAA prospects in action on Sunday, the 2013 NCAA tournament field was set and involved four Tampa Bay draft picks:
Quinnipiac (Matt Peca) earned the top overall seed and will play 16-seed Canisius College in the East Region's first round. Of course, Canisius is the alma mater of current Lightning rookie, Cory Conacher.
Minnesota (Adam Wilcox) got the second overall seed and plays 15th-seeded Yale in the first round in the West.
Miami (Jimmy Mullin) is the 5-seed and will play 11-seed Minnesota State in the Midwest.
North Dakota (Brendan O'Donnell) is No. 8 in the tournament and will face off against 10-seed Niagara in the first round of the West. The winner will play the Minnesota-Yale winner.
Left out of the tournament is Luke Witkowski and Western Michigan, who had a fine season but were beat out of the CCHA tournament early by Michigan. Notre Dame and Canisius making the tournament knocked them out as an at-large. That means Witkowski is available to sign his pro contract with the Lightning, something Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman has said he interested in doing. Witkowski's defense partner, Danny DeKeyser, is the NCAA's top available free agent and is reportedly traveling to Toronto on Tuesday to meet with potential suitors. The Lightning were a supposed finalist for his services last year before he decided to go back to school. The Red Wings are considered the favorite to land DeKeyser, with the Ducks and Oilers also making strong pushes. Expect the Lightning to be involved also, but it's unclear if the signing of Andrej Sustr and the firing of Guy Boucher will affect things.
Witkowski could join the Syracuse Crunch upon his signing.