Bolt Prospects Prospect of the Month: March
Choosing this month's award winner was admittedly the most difficult of the season. A handful of prospects had good months, but none stepped up and seized the award by the throat leaving Bolt Prospects to have to spend some time thinking over the selection. In Springfield, Eric Healey paced the Falcons offensively (12 GP, 4-9-13, 2 PIM, -4) while Norm Milley played several inspired games (12 GP, 4-4-8, 14 PIM, -9). However, given Springfield's difficulty in winning hockey games we were hard pressed to give the award to a Falcon. For similar reasons, Chris Lawrence (9 GP, 6-4-10, 10 PIM, +2 and 4 GP, 3-0-3, 8 PIM, -6 in the playoffs) was eliminated from contention after his Mississauga Ice Dogs were unceremoniously upset in the first round of the OHL playoffs. So, this months winner was narrowed down to...
LW Radek Smolenak, Springfield (AHL)/Johnstown (ECHL)
If the Norfolk Admirals, the Lightning's new AHL farm club, are to be successful next season the improvement at the forward position will have to come from within the ranks of the young players currently in the organization. Hope comes in the form of rookie forwards like young Radek Smolenak who, after a prolonged callup developing at the AHL level, returned to Johnstown of the ECHL to help lead the Chiefs back into the playoff hunt. In 4 games in the month of March, Smolenak had 1 assist, 6 penalty minutes and a respectable even rating. With Johnstown, Smolenak posted 2 goals and 8 points in 7 games with 2 penalty minutes and a +3 rating. Smolenak was named third star of the game in Johnstown's 3-2 win over first place Dayton on 3/24 while scoring his 14th goal of the season. 6 nights later Smolenak was first star with 1 goal and 3 assists in a 6-1 win over the Toledo Storm. Smolenak completed his month on 3/31 with a pair of assists on the games' only goals in a 2-0 shutout over Dayton. Smolenak, 20, has 15 goals and 34 points in 42 games this season at the ECHL level and 1 assist in 20 games with 8 penalty minutes and a -5 rating at the AHL level. A third round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, Smolenak has unquestionable upside and is just the sort of player the Lightning need to take significant steps forward developmentally over the offseason if their first year in Norfolk is going to go more smoothly than their time in Springfield.
Smolenak's March Statistics
7 GP, 2-6-8, 2 PIM, +3 (Johnstown, ECHL)
5 GP, 0-1-1, 6 PIM, Even (Springfield, AHL)