Prospect of the Week: October 30, 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 is watched closer than any other Lightning prospect.

The Prospect of the Week for October 30 is … Slater Koekkoek, defenseman, Peterborough (OHL – Canada)

The only reaction stronger than the surprise many Lightning prospect fans felt when the Lightning chose Slater Koekkoek with the 10th overall pick in June’s draft was the concern they felt when the 2-way defenseman went down in his first preseason game.

In other words, though the pick may have surprised them, they’re behind him 100 percent.

Koekkoek missed all but two months of last season due to a shoulder injury, causing his stock to fall in draft rankings and projections. And while his preseason malady was “just” a bruise, many assumed the worst when he fell to the ice after a hit by Oshawa’s Boone Jenner. Would Koekkoek lose another season of development?

The Petes’ captain didn’t miss any regular season games and though he first made the papers for off-ice reasons, now it’s his on ice play that has prospect followers excited, and the Petes winning.

Koekkoek has points in seven of his last eight games. He had four assists and a plus-4 rating in three games last week. Koekkoek has two goals and nine assists this year in 14 games to go with a minus-6 rating.

To a captain, the club comes first and the team has won their last two games. Their previous five games were all one-goal losses.

After starting the season with a few lop-sided losses, Koekkoek questioned the effort of his teammates and the makeup of the club. Peterborough’s general manager was fired shortly after.

That’s a lot of pressure on a young player, but Koekkoek has handled it in stride and is leading his team up the standings by example – like a good captain should.

Koekkoek, who was named to Team OHL for the upcoming Canada-Russia Subway Series, projects as a top pair, 2-way defenseman at the NHL level. He likely will spend another year in junior hockey next season before turning pro.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

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