Prospect of the Week: November 12, 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 scored five goals in three games.

The Prospect of the Week for November 12 is … Alex Hutchings, winger, Florida (ECHL – USA)

While many focusing on how the NHL lockout is affecting NHL players, coaches, administration, and even arena workers, the work stoppage is having a drastic effect on minor league players. Players like Alex Hutchings.

Hutchings is in the final year of his entry-level contract and has yet to secure an AHL spot. His rookie professional season was spent in the ECHL, which is not unheard of by any means. Rookie pros often start in the ECHL where they can get more ice time than sitting in the press box as a scratch at the AHL level. However, when year two came around, Hutchings failed to make the Norfolk Admirals and a deep roster kept him with the Everblades for a good part of the season. Of course, an injury kept him out for three months, too. He earned a spot on the Norfolk roster by the time the playoffs rolled around, but did not play in the postseason for either the AHL champion Admirals or the ECHL champion Everblades.

This was supposed to be his year.

Thanks to the NHL lockout, however, Hutchings was pushed back down to the ECHL to make room for NHLers like J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, and J.T. Wyman in AHL Syracuse. Instead of sulking, the third-year pro is doing what he can to be ready when the Crunch need him back in the AHL.

This week Hutchings scored in all three of Florida’s games, including a hat trick on Friday against Elmira in which he was named first star. He also had an assist on Wednesday against the Jackals.

For the year, the native of Burlington, Ontario, and offseason workout partner of Cory Conacher has 11 points (5 goals) in 11 games.

A 47-goal scorer with OHL Barrie, Hutchings is making an 11th hour push for another contract year with the Lightning. He was drafted by the previous regime, so he may have that (and time) working against him. Production is the key, and if this week was any indicator, he’s intent on earning that contract.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

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 Vasilevski, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia
September 25, Andrei Vasilevski, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia

(Photo by swamphockey.com.)