Prospect of the Week: 3-24-15

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 March 24, 2015 is … Adam Wilcox, G, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA – USA).

Playing goaltender for the University of Minnesota isn’t for the faint of heart. For everything positive – and Lightning prospect Adam Wilcox had plenty of positives in his first two years with the Gophers – the negatives are amplified to a level of criticism not seen in many hockey circles. Minnesota was the top-ranked team early in the year, then fell out of the rankings completely. As a result, Wilcox has trudged through a river of disparagement for inconsistent play and what amounts to not living up to the standard that he set himself.

If mental fortitude is a necessity for every successful goaltender, consider that box checked for Wilcox. The junior goalie emerged from that icy, rocky river and re-discovered his game in late February. In March, he led his team to the Big 10 regular season and tournament titles.

On Friday he posted his sixth shutout of the season and 13th of his career to tie a school record. The St. Paul native stopped all 39 shots fired his way to shut out Ohio State, 3-0, and advance the Gophers to the championship game. In the finals, Wilcox didn’t have to wear a cape like he did against the Buckeyes, but his timely saves – specifically after the Gophers took a 3-2 lead midway through the third period – and steady presence helped Minnesota earn a 4-2 win over Michigan and a big shiny trophy.

Wilcox, nicknamed "Iron Man" for his mask and "Wallcox" for his acrobatic saves, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He also won our Bolt Prospect of the Week.

The Lightning’s sixth round pick in the 2011 draft is 22-11-3 this season with a 2.38 goals against average and .913 save percentage. His save percentage bottomed out below .900 earlier this year and he’s been climbing ever since.

Wilcox will lead the now No. 8 (USCHO) Gophers into the national tournament this week, facing Minnesota-Duluth. If they win that, they’ll face either Boston University or Yale for the right to go to the Frozen Four for the second straight year. Wilcox led his team to the finals last season before losing to Union.

Once the Gophers are finished, Wilcox has the option to sign with Tampa Bay and join AHL Syracuse (or the Lightning in a practice role depending on entry-level contract stipulations). He could also decline the opportunity to sign and become a free agent in the summer. The choice is his.

Wilcox has the ability to be an NHL starter in time. He’ll need a few AHL years before that happens, as do most goalies. His competitive style and athleticism combined with his poise in the crease will help him climb the ladder. He’s a lot like Montreal backup goaltender Dustin Tokarski (but bigger) that way.

BP Rank: 10

(University of Minnesota photo)

Honorable Mention: Dylan Blujus, D (Syracuse, AHL), Anthony DeAngelo, D (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), Brayden Point, C (Moose Jaw, WHL)

2014-2015 Prospect of the Week winners:

March 18: Slater Koekkoek, D, (Syracuse, AHL, USA)
March 11: Brayden Point, C, (Moose Jaw, WHL, Canada)
March 4: Anthony DeAngelo, D, (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, Canada)
February 25: Vladislav Namestnikov, C, (Syracuse, AHL, USA)
February 16: Adam Wilcox, G, (Univ. of Minnesota, NCAA, USA)
February 11: Anthony DeAngelo, D, (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, Canada)
February 2: Cedric Paquette, C, (Tampa Bay, NHL, USA)
January 28: Anthony DeAngelo, D, (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, Canada)
January 21: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Syracuse, AHL, USA).
January 14: Brendan O’Donnell, W, (University of North Dakota, NCAA, USA).
January 7: Cameron Darcy, C, (Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL, Canada).
December 19: Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
December 8: Brayden Point, C, (Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL, Canada).
December 3: Philippe Paradis, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
November 24: Adam Erne, W, (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL, Canada).
November 18: Yanni Gourde, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
November 12: Cedric Paquette, C/W, (Tampa Bay Lighting, NHL, USA).
November 5: Joel Vermin, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 28: Adam Erne, W, (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL, Canada).
October 21: Jonathan Drouin, W, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
October 15: Vlad Namestnikov, C, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).