Prospect of the Week: December 3, 2013

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.

The Prospect of the Week for November 25 – December 1, 2013 is … Cedric Paquette, C, Syracuse Crunch (AHL – USA).

Rookie pro Cedric Paquette played superhero last week, rescuing the injured, falling Syracuse Crunch by swooping in at the last moment to lead the club to two needed wins.

The Crunch entered last weekend banged up, short on players due to injuries in Tampa, and on a season-long 5-game losing streak.

Playing in place of injured top-line center Vlad Namestnikov, Paquette put on his cape and scored his fifth goal of the year late in the third period on Friday to put the Crunch ahead of visiting St. John’s, 3-2. An empty net goal made the final score, 4-2. One night later, the player we’ve nicknamed “Dump Truck” for his work ethic, heavy hits, and wide skating stride scored another third period goal in a 1-0 road win over Adirondack.

He was first star on Friday and second on Saturday behind goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.

Paquette told us at the Lightning’s training camp that the organization envisions him developing as a third line, physical, 2-way center though he’s been both a goal scorer and assist man in juniors with Blainville-Boisbriand. He topped the 100-point mark with the Armada last season. He’s excelling in a scoring role with the Crunch at the moment with three points in his last two games (2-1-3). For the year, the Lightning’s 2012 fourth round pick has six goals and nine points in 20 games.

We rank Paquette No. 19 among Lightning prospects and expect him to play at least the next two seasons in Syracuse before being ready for limited NHL time in the third year of his entry-level contract.

Also Considered: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, Halifax (QMJHL); Adam Erne, C/W, Quebec (QMJHL); Slater Koekkoek, D, Windsor (OHL); Nikita Kucherov, W, Tampa Bay (NHL).

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

November 26: Tyler Johnson, C, (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, USA).
November 19: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).
November 13: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).
November 4: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 29: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 24: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 16: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 9: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 1: Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, (Salavat Yulaev, KHL, Russia).
September 24: Adam Erne, W, Tampa Bay (NHL) and Quebec (QMJHL)