Prospect of the Week: November 26, 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 18-24, 2013 is … Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).

Tyler Johnson is getting good at the NHL hockey.

The Lightning’s recent trip out west was rather forgettable, but there were a few positives among the negatives. One of those positives was the ascending play of rookie Tyler Johnson.

The 2011 free agent signee out of WHL Spokane had a goal and two assists on the trip to cap a career-best four-game point streak. Johnson is adapting to a third line role with the Lightning next to familiar AHL Syracuse linemates Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat. The line isn’t a traditional checking unit, but is effective with its puck possession in the offensive zone. The three are becoming more comfortable in the NHL as a unit and individually as their freshman seasons progress.

Johnson has been chipping in offensively this season to the tune of five goals and 11 points in 24 games. He finished last season as the AHL’s MVP with 37 goals and 65 points in 62 games. He was 3-3-6 in 14 games with the Lightning, too.

The Washington native is a big part of Tampa Bay’s penalty kill this year with his AHL PK partner, Palat. Johnson has been counted on for 5-on-3 kills and taking key faceoffs in both the offensive and defensive zones in all situations.

The rookie’s role and recent streak earned him our Prospect of the Week.

We rank Johnson No. 5 among Lightning prospects. His NHL ceiling is a scoring line two-way center and valuable special teamer. He will likely take Teddy Purcell’s spot in the Stamkos Circle on the second PP unit when Purcell eventually moves on or Johnson steals it from him. TJ has a variety of roles he can play at the NHL level and it helps that Lightning coach (and Johnson’s former AHL coach) Jon Cooper is a card-carrying member of the mythical Tyler Johnson Fan Club.

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

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)