2019 Post-Draft Prospect Rankings


Introduction

The 2018-2019 regular season has come and gone and it was the best season in Lightning history. Then the playoffs happened. A funny thing happened on the way to lifting the Cup and it happened so fast the only thing most Lightning fans remember was the culprit was wearing a blue jacket and John Tortorella was giddy.

The Lightning took the first step to putting both the good and bad of the 2018-2019 season behind them this past week with the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Tampa Bay added seven prospects to the farm, and some were bigger than others. But where does Nolan Foote, Max Cajkovic, and others fit into the current stable of youngsters? Glad you asked. We’ve added the newbies into the existing group to come up with our post-draft rankings.

As usual, a refresher is in order about the rules of the rankings. Only players under the age of 24 on opening night of the regular season are eligible to be ranked. Skaters with 41 NHL games in a single season or a total of 82 career NHL games are considered graduated and are ineligible to be ranked. Goaltenders with 30 decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions are also considered graduated. Finally, NCAA-based players are eligible for the rankings for the duration of their college careers, irrespective of their age. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Consult your doctor if … nevermind.

And away we go…

Bolts Re-Sign Defensive Prospect Ben Thomas

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Ben Thomas to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Thomas, 23, played in 67 games with the Crunch last season, recording two goals and 16 points to go along with 24 penalty minutes. The Calgary, Alberta native set a career high with a plus-18 rating and netted his first career shorthanded goal during the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-1, 187-pound defenseman has skated in 218 career AHL games, all with Syracuse over the past four seasons, registering 10 goals and 63 points to go along with 112 penalty minutes. Thomas has also appeared in 29 career Calder Cup playoff games, posting five goals and 13 points. He was originally drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 119th overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft.

Lightning Make Martel Extension Official

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Danick Martel to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Martel, 5-foot-8, 176 pounds, played in nine games with the Lightning last season, recording two assists. He also skated in four games for Tampa Bay’s top affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and recorded one assist. Martel was claimed off waivers by the Bolts from the Philadelphia Flyers on September 22, 2018.

The Drummondville, Quebec native has played in 13 career NHL games between the Lightning and the Flyers, recording two assists. He has also appeared in 203 career AHL games with the Crunch and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, notching 68 goals and 121 points with a plus-19 rating. Martel has also skated in 18 career Calder Cup Playoff games, all with the Phantoms, and registered five goals with nine points.

Martel, 24, was originally undrafted and was signed by Philadelphia as a free agent on March 10, 2015.

Bolts Sign Gemel Smith to One Year, Two-Way Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Gemel (juh-MEHL) Smith to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.

Smith, 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, played in 17 games last season with the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins, recording two goals and three points. He also played in 47 games with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, notching 16 goals and 40 points. Smith also skated in two Calder Cup Playoff games. He was claimed off waivers by Boston from Dallas on December 6, 2018.

The Toronto, Ontario native has played in 80 career NHL games with the Stars and Bruins, registering 11 goals and 20 points. He established career highs of six goals and 11 points in 46 games with Dallas during the 2017-18 season. Smith has played in 233 career AHL games with the Bruins and Texas Stars, amassing 51 goals and 126 points. He has also played in five career Calder Cup Playoff games.

Smith, 25, was selected by Dallas in the fourth round, 13th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Bolts Re-Sign AHL Goal and Point Leader to One-Year Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Carter Verhaeghe to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Verhaeghe, 23, played in 76 games with the Syracuse Crunch during the 2018-19 season, recording 34 goals and 82 points to go along with 34 penalty minutes and a plus-26 rating. The Toronto, Ontario native led the Crunch for points and assists (48) last season, while also pacing the AHL for goals and points. He was also one of two players to appear in all 76 games last season (Cal Foote). Verhaeghe also skated in four Calder Cup Playoff games in 2019, notching a goal and six points.

The 6-foot-1, 181-pound forward has skated in 211 career AHL games with the Crunch, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Toronto Marlies over five seasons, recording 73 goals and 175 points. Verhaeghe set career highs for games played, goals, assists and points during the 2018-19 season.

Verhaeghe was acquired by the Lightning from the New York Islanders in exchange for goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis on July 1, 2017.

Lightning Add Depth with Three Minor League Signings

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltenders Scott Wedgewood and Spencer Martin, as well as forward Chris Mueller, to one-year, two-way contracts, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Tampa Brings Back Witkowski

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Witkowski, 29, skated in 34 games with the Detroit Red Wings last season, collecting two assists and 23 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman has spent the past two seasons with the Red Wings, appearing in 65 games over that stretch while posting a goal and six points.

The Holland, Michigan native started his NHL career with the Lightning when he was drafted by the Bolts in the sixth round, 160th overall, at the 2008 NHL Draft. Witkowski has appeared in 54 career games with Tampa Bay, posting four assists. He has skated in 218 career American Hockey League games, all with the Syracuse Crunch over five seasons and served as the captain of the Crunch during the 2016-17 season.

Bolts Ink D Luke Schenn to One Year Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Luke Schenn to a one-year contract worth $700,000, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Schenn, 6-foot-2, 221 pounds, skated in 26 games with the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks in 2018-19, recording two assists. He was traded from Anaheim to Vancouver in January. Schenn also played in 22 games for the San Diego Gulls and seven with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Schenn has played in 734 career NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Ducks and Canucks, recording 30 goals, 145 points and 545 penalty minutes.

Schenn, 29, was drafted by Toronto in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft.

Lightning Sign G Curtis McElhinney to Two-Year Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent goaltender Curtis McElhinney to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $1.3-million, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

McElhinney, 36, appeared in 33 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, posting a 20-11-2 record to go along with a 2.58 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with two shutouts. He set career highs for games played, wins and saves (1,978) during the 2018-19 season. The London, Ontario native also played in five Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2019, winning three games with a 2.01 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound goaltender has played in 219 career NHL games over 13 seasons with the Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames, registering a record of 82-82-15 to go along with a 2.81 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. McElhinney was previously acquired by the Lightning on February 24, 2011 from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Dan Ellis. He was then claimed off waivers four days later by the Ottawa Senators.

McElhinney was originally drafted by the Flames in the sixth round, 176th overall, at the 2002 NHL Draft.

Bolts Ink 2019 1st Rounder Nolan Foote to ELC

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Nolan Foote to a three-year entry level contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. The Lightning drafted Foote from the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League with the 27th overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia this past weekend. Nolan is the younger brother of the Lightning’s 2017 first-round pick Cal Foote and the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote.

Foote, 18, skated in 66 games with Kelowna during the 2018-19 season, posting 36 goals and 63 points to go along with 62 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the Rockets for goals and power-play goals (17) and was tied for second for points. His 17 power-play markers ranked tied for fourth in the WHL. The Engelwood, Colorado native set career highs last season for games played, goals, points and penalty minutes last season.

The 6-foot-3, 188-pound forward has played in 168 career WHL games, all with Kelowna over three seasons, posting 68 goals and 138 points to go along with 118 penalty minutes. Foote has also appeared in 22 career WHL playoff games, recording three goals and 10 points.

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