Prospect of the Week: January 23, 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 January 23 is … Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA)

Last week the North American sports world’s biggest headlines were about a story that was fake. During the college football season, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was the subject of multiple stories documenting his inspirational play in memory of his deceased girlfriend. It was a heart-wrenching story… until it was proven to be false. Te’o was allegedly the victim of a hoax and his girlfriend never existed beyond someone’s imagination.

The American sports fan was already cynical, and now their ability to engage in an emotional story will take a greater hit.

Don’t let it.

Good (true) stories still exist. Take Cory Conacher as an example.

Once upon a time, seventeen months ago in fact, Conacher was an undersized, undrafted, free agent no-name invited to participate with the Lightning’s draftees in a south Florida prospects tournament.

This past Saturday, he was in the Lightning’s NHL lineup for their season opener against the Washington Capitals.

In between, Conacher won an AHL scoring race, was named an AHL all-star, AHL rookie of the year, and the AHL’s most valuable player. He also won a Calder Cup shortly after the ink dried on his first NHL contract.

Not too shabby.

Of course, Conacher couldn’t just participate in his first NHL game and have that be enough. He assisted on a goal by his idol, Martin St. Louis, for his first NHL point, and scored his first NHL goal in the third period.

Show off.

For making the Lightning and earning a goal and an assist in his first NHL game, Conacher is our Prospect of the Week. He has since added another goal and two more assists in three total games and is tied for the NHL’s rookie scoring lead with St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko.

The best part for Lightning fans is Conacher’s story is far from over.

And that’s the truth.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

January 15, Artem Sergeev, D, Val-d’Or, QMJHL-Canada
World Juniors break
December 17, Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse, AHL-Canada
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