Prospect of the Week (2.14.12)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques, but we are sending a Phineas & Ferb valentine to this week’s winner.

We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to … Alex Hutchings, Florida (ECHL).

A fourth round pick of the Lightning in 2009, Hutchings made his pro debut last year and struggled to find his groove playing against men. It isn’t abnormal by any means for players to struggle making the transition to pro, which makes the years Carter Ashton, Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, and Richard Panik all the more impressive.

This year Hutchings took an early demotion from AHL Norfolk and didn’t sulk. He was leading the team in scoring before suffering an “upper-body” injury on November 12. He’s spent the last three months watching hockey while trying to get healthy.

Until now.

Hutchings returned to the ice on Friday and scored a go-ahead goal in his second period back. Florida eventually lost to Gwinnett in a shootout, but they had one of their alternate captains and offensive leaders back. The next night Hutchings, who scored 47 goals and more than 80 points in his final year with OHL Barrie, had two assists to help the Everblades to a 5-3 win in South Carolina.

Dating back to mid-November, Hutchings has 10 points in his last seven games. That includes an assist he had in a rare Monday night ECHL game this week. For the year he has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 17 games. He is also plus-4.

Hutchings has the speed and hands to make it as a professional, but he must improve his hockey sense, compete level, and weight to consistently contribute above the ECHL. He’s setting himself up for a promotion to Norfolk should they be down forwards again. He missed his first chance because of his injury.

Congratulations to Alex on winning Prospect of the Week, and for being the first Florida Everblade to do so.

Previous BP Prospects of the Week:

Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - February 6, 2012
Adam Wilcox, Tri-City (USHL) and Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - January 30, 2012
Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr. (Russia) - January 24, 2012
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - January 16, 2012
Brett Connolly, Canada (U20 WJC) - January 10, 2012
*Due to the Christmas break when few games below the NHL level were played, no POTW award was given.
Mark Barberio, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 19, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - December 12, 2011
Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 5, 2011
Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - November 28, 2011
Nikita Kucherov, Team Russia/CSKA Jr. (MHL) - November 21, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - November 14, 2011
Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - November 6, 2011
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - October 30, 2011
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac Bobcats - October 23, 2011
Radko Gudas, Norfolk Admirals - October 16, 2011
Carter Ashton, Norfolk Admirals - October 9, 2011
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning - October 2, 2011
Mattias Ritola, Tampa Bay Lightning - September 25, 2011