On Bolt Prospects, we've always advocated the wisdom of adding more emphasis to the Lightning's developmetal system and for the first time since the Fall of 2002, the Lightning will be holding a prospect camp. From a personal standpoint, I went to every day of that 2002 camp where I first got to watch a young defenseman from Oshawa named Paul Ranger who I went away convinced had a shot at making the NHL. Almost four years later the Lighhtning have done a lot to help fix what was, at that time, a dysfunctional developmental apparatus. They've been a regular at the Traverse City prospect tournament over the past three years and, more importantly, they've locked up a full affiliation with the AHL's Springfield Falcons. They've even gone a step further in buying into the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs giving the club additional developmental spots and the opportunity to take a flyer on undrafted free agents who have fallen through the cracks. The 20 tryout players who are being invited to this camp are part of that effort.
In the category of "Better Late Than Never," the Movement option at the top of the Boltprospects.com homepage is now serving as a player movement tracker for Lightning players and prospects this offseason.
Bolt Prospects would like to give a special thanks to Lightning Head Scout Jake Goertzen for making the following list of confirmed prospect camp invitees available. Goertzen stated that many of these players are competing for roster spots for the Traverse City prospects tournament coming up in September.
So, without further ado...
Bolt Prospects will no doubt have the full list of invitees to the Lightning's prospect development camp very soon but already some names are beginning to trickle out onto the internet. The Everett Herald is reporting Silvertips captain Torrie Wheat has been invited to the camp. The 6'2" 180 lbs right wing was captain of the 'Tips last season scoring 16 goals and 48 points in 43 games with 28 penalty minutes. Rumor also has Clayton Barthel of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, a 6'3" 200 lbs defenseman, also making the list of invitees. Given the lack of room under the Lightning's 50-man roster any potential signee would likely have to ink an AHL level contract with the Springfield Falcons to be retained in the organization. Last year the team invited defensemen Steven Whitely of Belleville of the OHL and defenseman Ben Chaisson of Halifax of the QMJHL to join their rookie team in Traverse City. A year prior to that the Lightning signed invitee Andre Deveaux to a contract straight out of his tryout at Traverse City, proving that it is possible to win a job in these tryout settings.
It turns out the rumor of Anton But potentially coming to Tampa Bay was just that - a rumor. Bolt Prospects has learned that the Lightning are not actively pursuing But. In fact, Tampa Bay Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster stated, "The last time [the Lightning's] Russian scout spoke with him, [But] wasn't overly keen on coming over to play in North America."
The Lightning will lose But's rights next summer should the Russian Federation ratify the IIHF-NHL transfer agreement. With a scoring line spot open in Tampa and But's release from Yaroslavl, it would have seemed like the perfect time to bring over the scoring winger. However, "at this point in time," that does not appear to be the case.