Prospect of the Week: December 17, 2012

This week we continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

This week’s winner is the only person to walk on this earth that can say he completed his Harvard University degree while winning a Calder Cup championship.

The Prospect of the Week for December 17 is … Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse (AHL – USA)

No one can claim they completed their Harvard degree while winning a Calder Cup championship except Alex Killorn.

Killorn made his AHL debut late last season for the Norfolk Admirals after finishing an outstanding collegiate career at Harvard University. He finished his last Harvard paper during Norfolk’s Calder Cup run, contributing three goals and 12 points when he wasn’t hunched over his computer.

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“When he came in, the game slowed down for him right away, within a couple of games,” his current head coach, Syracuse’s Jon Cooper, told Bolt Prospects in early November. “You look at some of our other rookies… It took those guys a little bit more time."

This year Killorn is still a rookie only on a technicality. He played 27 AHL games last year, including both regular season and playoff appearances.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who moved their affiliate from Norfolk to Syracuse in the offseason, have high hopes for the 23-year-old Montreal-area native, as Killorn has an intriguing blend of power, skill, drive, and smarts in his 6-1 frame. Now all he needs is some more professional experience.

Killorn started his official rookie year by registering just two goals in his first 15 games for Syracuse – and those were both scored in the same game. The 2007 third round pick has caught fire recently with goals in his last four consecutive games and five in his last six games.

This past week Killorn had three goals and an assist in three games – all wins. He was also plus-4 in those three wins, helping the Crunch stay atop the AHL standings at 17-6-1-1. For the season, Killorn has seven goals and 18 points in 25 games.

He is ranked fifth in our top-25 Lightning prospect rankings and projects as a versatile NHLer in the near future. Killorn has a skill-set that will enable him to contribute on a scoring line, but with a checking liner’s mind-set. He will dive to block a shot, backcheck, take or give a hit to make a play, and gladly volunteer to take the shot in the closing seconds of a tie game. The fact he can play both center and wing is a bonus, especially considering the Lightning don’t appear to have a third-line center of the future.

With a full season of AHL experience, Killorn will have a resume Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Head Coach Guy Boucher prefer to suit up for the Lightning next season.

And in this rare case, a Harvard degree is just a bonus.

Honorable Mention: Luke Witkowski, D, Western Michigan University (NCAA – USA). A captain for the Broncos, Witkowski notched his first goal of the season this week in a win over Michigan. This gives us an excuse to promote the stay-at-home defenseman for not only his current play, but also his career body-of-work for USHL Fargo (captain) and WMU (captain). He is a big, right-handed, character defenseman who is deserving of a pro contract at the end of this, his senior season. He projects as a third pair defenseman who can rush the puck, but also be trusted in his own end to provide a physical, responsible presence. If he is signed this year, he will likely be in AHL Syracuse next year gaining professional experience.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

December 10, Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
December 3, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
November 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 20, Richard Panik, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 12, Alex Hutchings, W, Florida, ECHL-USA
November 5, Nikita Kucherov, W, Quebec, QMJHL-Canada
October 30, Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough, OHL-Canada
October 23, Dustin Tokarski, G, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 15, Cory Conacher, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 9, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
October 2, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia
September 25, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia