Prospect of the Week: May 15, 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 April 25 is … Syracuse’s Top Gun line (AHL – USA).

Tyler Johnson is sharing the wealth.

Johnson had a hat trick and seven total points (2 GP, 4-3-7) last week as the Crunch came off a week-long break with two wins over Springfield in Massachusetts. Syracuse holds a 2-0 series lead on the Falcons entering Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

Johnson has won our Prospect of the Week three times in the last six weeks and we’re running out of ways to say he’s good at the hockey, so we’re giving the award to his line, made up of Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Richard Panik. The line was recently named the Top Gun line, though it has also been called the PTPer (Prime Time Players via Dick Vitale). Regardless of what people are calling it, the line is on fire.

The three Crunch players, who all spent time with the Lightning this year, have combined for 31 points over 15 total AHL postseason games (Johnson 5 GP, 6-7-13; Palat 5 GP, 3-9-12; Panik 5 GP, 3-3-6). Johnson's 13 points are tied for the AHL lead.

The trio led Syracuse to a 3-0 sweep of Portland in the first round, and to a 5-0 playoff record. Last week alone, the line combined for 16 points (Johnson 4-3-7, Palat 0-5-5, Panik 2-2-4).

Going back to last season, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate (Norfolk, Syracuse) has won 15 straight games. The Top Gun line has been a significant part of every win.

BoltProspects' Jeremy Houghtaling spoke recently with all three members of the Crunch’s top line. To read why they think the line works so well, click here.

We rank Johnson, signed as a rookie free agent, as the Lightning’s No. 2 prospect. Panik, a 2009 second rounder, is No. 6; and Palat, a 2011 seventh rounder, No. 11. We will have new rankings following the AHL playoff season.

(Photos/graphic by Scott Thomas; hashtag by BoltProspects)

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

May 1, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA
April 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA
April 17, Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
April 10, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
April 3, Matthew Peca, W, Quinnipiac, NCAA-USA
March 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
March 19, Dylan Blujus, D, Brampton, OHL-Canada
March 12, Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
March 4, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 25, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 19, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
February 12, Alex Killorn, C/W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
February 5, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
January 30, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
January 23, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
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