With the 2010 NHL Entry Draft completed, BoltProspects is releasing its Supplemental Rankings of the organization's top twenty-five prospects. The new rankings reflect both the results of the 2010 draft and transfers and signings that have occurred since the release of our 2009-2010 Final Rankings. To be considered a prospect for the sake of our rankings, a player must be under 24 years of age on the Lightning's opening night of the NHL season. Players 24 or over are considered overage prospects and are no longer eligible for consideration. The exception to this rule are NCAA based players, who are considered prospects for the tenure of their college careers. For the skating positions, a prospect is considered graduated if they play 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games. For goaltenders, a player who has 30 or more NHL decisions in a single season or 41 or more career NHL decisions is considered graduated and no longer eligible for the list.
1.) RW Brett Connolly , Prince George (WHL)
Not surprisingly, the Lightning's 2010 first round pick, sixth overall, assumes the top spot in the rankings. The scouting community unanimously agrees that, when healthy, Connolly is a premiere offensive talent possessing excellent speed, playmaking ability, and a sniper's finishing ability. Connolly's skill set compares to that of long-time San Jose Sharks star Patrick Marleau, but he lost most of this season to hip injuries. As a consequence, we expect Connolly to play one more season of junior hockey before he makes it to Tampa Bay.
2.) G Dustin Tokarski , Norfolk (AHL)
Dustin Tokarski slides down to number two on our rankings. We hope the young netminder isn't rushed to Tampa Bay and gets to spend at least one more full season with Norfolk. Tokarski is one of the game's best young big game goaltending prospects and he showed well in his rookie season with Norfolk. We expect him to be the organization's number three goaltender next year.
3.) RW Carter Ashton , Regina (WHL)
General Manager Steve Yzerman has talked Ashton up since taking the team over, and we suspect the young power forward will be given every opportunity to make the Lightning in the Fall. Ashton had a disappointing year in the WHL last season, but opened some eyes again with his strength and surprising burst in an ATO with Norfolk. Ashton's north-south style game is well suited for today's NHL, and his game is comparable to that of the Lightning's own Ryan Malone . If Ashton doesn't make the Lightning this year, he must return to juniors in Regina due to his age.
4.) RW Richard Panik , Belleville (OHL)
Slovakian winger Richard Panik had a roller coaster season in the OHL and in international play for his home country at the U20 World Junior Championships and the World Championships. The Lightning haven't signed Panik yet, but we expect the Lightning to ink the winger with a good training camp. Panik is skilled and strong as a bull on the puck, with a skill set that has been compared to Marian Hossa. We feel like Panik responds best to a challenge, and the best challenge Yzerman could give to Panik is to help make Norfolk a playoff team next season.
5.) RW Dana Tyrell , Norfolk (AHL)
Funny, I remember a time when the Lightning had no depth on right wing. It's almost unfair that four deep they have a speed demon like Dana Tyrell. As we've often said, Tyrell's speed could melt the paint off the boards, and he matches that with a high work rate and a motor that doesn't quit. We expect Tyrell to make the Lightning this coming season. His skill set compares to that of NHLer Antoine Vermette.
6.) C/LW Johan Harju , Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
Another strong candidate to make the Lightning next season and bring the club some fresh blood is 24 year old forward Johan Harju, whose skill set has been compared to that of Detroit forward Johan Franzen. Harju has already signed a one-year deal with the Lightning and brings to the team a wealth of experience in the Swedish Elitserien and the Russian KHL as well as the versatility to play all three forward positions. He had a down season in the KHL but quickly redeemed himself with a strong World Championships. With the right playmaker, Harju can and will use his quick, accurate release to score goals. This will be the last time Harju graces our prospect rankings, as he will become an overage prospect in the Fall.
7.) C/LW Alex Killorn , Harvard (ECACHL)
For what seems like forever, Alex Killorn has been the Lightning's stealth prospect. Annually, he shines for the team in its prospect camps and annually he disappears to the obscurity of prep school hockey or to Harvard of the ECACHL. With Montreal first rounder Louis Leblanc seriously considering leaving the Crimson this season, we hope the Lightning will step in and move to aggressively sign Killorn if his teammate pulls the trigger on a move. Killorn's skill set compares to that of Brian Rolston, and we look forward to the day the Lightning will finally get to see him suit up as a pro for them.
8.) D Ty Wishart , Norfolk (AHL)
Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system may end up being bad news for some of the Lightning's bigger defensive prospects like Ty Wishart. The 6'5" blueliner led Norfolk in scoring last season, but he lacks high end speed and Boucher's 1-3-1 requires to push the play and support the forecheck. Wishart is entering the final season of his entry-level contract, and he'll have the double tough task of adapting to the 1-3-1 while also proving he can balance his offensive and defensive play.
9.) G Jaroslav Janus , Norfolk (AHL)
The Lightning didn't take any goaltenders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and the success of picks like Jaroslav Janus is the reason why. Janus earned a contract at mid-season and quickly assumed a regular spot as a tandem starter with the Admirals. He's incredibly athletic, competitive, and his positioning has shown remarkable improvement in just one year's time. We expect him to enter next year as the number four goaltender in the organization.
10.) LW/C Alex Hutchings , Barrie (OHL)
Another player who we expect the Lightning to sign with a good training camp is Alex Hutchings of Barrie. Hutchings combines great speed, hands, and a high motor with a mouth to match. Hutchings' skill set compares to that of Brian Gionta, and with a year or two of proper, professional weight training, he could be a scoring liner in the NHL.
11.) D Matt Lashoff , Norfolk (AHL)
One player who should be very thankful to General Manager Steve Yzerman for hiring Guy Boucher is defenseman Matt Lashoff. The 1-3-1 system is made for a player with the wheels Lashoff possesses, and he already has a one-way contract for next season. The system may help cover for the weaknesses in his game, his struggles with positioning and his reticence to compete physically along the wall, and it should help him put up solid numbers in the NHL. We expect Lashoff, provided he shows up in camp in shape and ready to go, to make the Lightning next season. This will be the last time Lashoff graces our prospect rankings, as he will become an overage prospect in the Fall.
12.) C Mitch Fadden , Norfolk (AHL)
With Norfolk losing many of their veteran contributors for last season, it's going to be critical for the team to have Mitch Fadden step up. Fadden, whose skill set compares to that of Ray Whitney, has speed, offensive flair, and the ability to stickhandle in a phone booth, if need be. As one of the few natural center prospects in the organization, he has a unique opportunity this season to climb the ladder. But, to do so, he's got to learn to use his teammates better, commit to playing better in the offensive third, and he's got to get strong and compete harder along the wall.
13.) D Mark Barberio , Moncton (QMJHL)
The Lightning moved this summer to sign defenseman Mark Barberio out of Moncton, who may have the pedigree to become a regular contributor for Norfolk this season. Comparable to Craig Rivet, Barberio shows outstanding hockey sense in the offensive and defensive zones. Whether that is enough to help him overcome an awkward skating stride in Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system remains to be seen, but it allowed him to routinely play big minutes for Moncton over the past three years.
14.) D Brock Beukeboom , Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
The Lightning's second pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft starts off in the rankings at number fourteen. Brock Beukeboom, son of former NHLer Jeff Beukeboom, gives the Lightning several things they desperately needed. He give the team a mobile, heavy righty shot and he gives the team some much needed toughness on the blueline. We expect Beukeboom to spend the next couple of seasons in junior hockey before starting his professional career in the organization.
15.) G Riku Helenius , Sodertalje (SWE)
We haven't given up on former first round pick Riku Helenius. After being exiled to Sweden with the emergence of Jarsolav Janus in Norfolk, Helenius turned lemons into lemonade by becoming the full time starter for Elitserien side Sodertalje. Now, Helenius will be getting regular starts in one of the best leagues in the world, and if he plays well we suspect he could be right back on the club's radar. Helenius is big, athletic, and competitive, and entering the final year of entry-level deal we believe he's not dead yet.
16.) D Adam Janosik , Gatineau (QMJHL)
Adam Janosik doesn't turn 18 years old until September, making him the youngest prospect in the Lightning organization. He put up 9 goals and 35 points as a rookie in the QMJHL, and we can't help but wonder how good he could be two or three years down the road. The young, baby-faced Slovakian is a very good skater with silky smooth puck distributing hands and razor sharp decision making. He also shows surprising willingness to take the body, given how small he is. All he needs is time to grow and gain experience, and we feel like he could become a whale of an offensive defenseman in the NHL.
17.) D Vladimir Mihalik , Norfolk (AHL)
No prospect was hurt more by the hiring of Guy Boucher than slow-footed, mammoth Slovakian blueliner Vladimir Mihalik. Maybe it's fitting he finds himself behind fellow Slovakian Adam Janosik in the rankings. Janosik, in many ways, is the model of the future. Mihalik seems like the antithesis. It's hard to see a way forward for Mihalik, who just doesn't have the speed or puck skills to make it in the 1-3-1.
18.) D Radko Gudas , Everett (WHL)
Norfolk, meet your newest folk hero. The Lightning selected 20 year old overage Czech prospect Radko Gudas out of Everett in the WHL, and the entire AHL East Division should be unhappy about it. Despite below average size, Gudas is one of the nastiest open ice hitters to come out of junior hockey in the past couple of years and has drawn comparisons to former NHL pest Darius Kasparaitis. Unlike Kasparaitis, though, Gudas has never been shy about dropping the gloves to back up his hits, regardless of the size of his opponent. Whether he can take that game all the way to the NHL remains to be seen, but we expect him to become an instant fan favorite with the Admirals next season.
19.) RW/C Blair Jones , Norfolk (AHL)
It has yet to be determined how prospect Blair Jones fits into the Lightning's future plans heading into his fifth season of professional hockey. There have been times Jones looks like the very model of a checking line NHL player with his exceptional size and forechecking ability, and there have been others when he looks lost in a sea of inconsistency. This Fall's training camp will be a critical last chance for Jones, as he tries to prove his meddle to the third general manager he's played for in his Lightning career. This will be the last time Jones graces our prospect rankings, as he will become an overage prospect in the Fall.
20.) D Kevin Quick , Norfolk (AHL)
It's now or never for blueline prospect Kevin Quick. After being dismissed from Michigan for disciplinary reasons, struggling as a youngster to adapt to the AHL, showing up to camp last season out of shape, and breaking his foot last year, Quick has managed to fall into the perfect opportunity at just the right time. Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system was made for a defenseman like Kevin Quick, who blends outstanding mobility and puck skills with a devil-may-care aggressiveness. If Quick can't become a player in this system, there's no system in which he ever can. Quick, whose promise was once compared to that of NHLer Brian Campbell, should be training harder than he ever has in his life, because this Fall's training camp is his golden ticket. We could see him climbing the ladder very fast with the right performance for Coach Boucher.
21.) D Geoffrey Schemitsch , Owen Sound (OHL)
Two seasons ago Geoffery Schemitsch was an undrafted player in the OHL Priority Draft languishing in obscurity in the midget hockey ranks. Two months ago, Geoffrey Schemitsch was putting on the jersey of Team Canada at the U18 World Junior Championships in Belarus. It's that kind of development curve that has the Lightning believing that with time to grow and more experience, Schemitsch could be a serious NHL prospect. He reminds us at BoltProspects of a more aggressive version of current Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin .
22.) D Scott Jackson , Norfolk (AHL)
Poor Scott Jackson. After being signed as a free agent by the Lightning after being shunned by the Blues organization that used a second round pick on him in 2005, he had a breakthrough season last year. Jackson established himself as the Admirals' best defensive blueliner, playing over twenty minutes a night for the club, and he earned a callup for the last game of the year for the Lightning in which he made his NHL debut. Unfortunately, like Wishart and Mihalik, Scott Jackson just isn't a natural fit for Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system. It's a shame. We see shades of former Lightning defenseman Nolan Pratt in Jackson, but he will have a tough time making it under Coach Boucher.
23.) C/RW James Mullin, Shattuck St. Mary's (USHS)
The Lightning believe they have a steal in tiny speedster James Mullin out of the much respected Shattuck prep school program. Mullin is committed to play for Miami of Ohio in the CCHA and will play next season for Fargo of the USHL. He has good skill, and the Lightning hope after a good four to five years of growth and development, they could have a real diamond in the rough.
24.) D Luke Witkowski , Western Michigan (CCHA)
Mullin might want to ask former Fargo captain Luke Witkowski where the best place to get pizza in the North Dakota town is. Entering his sophomore year with the Western Michigan Broncos, Witkowski will be looking to improve his play in the defensive third of the rink while still giving his team the physical play and character we've come to expect from him.
25.) C Brendan O'Donnell , Winnipeg South (MJHL)
Hailing from the home town of NHL star Jonathan Toews, the Lightning are hoping to have drafted a poor man's version of Toews in Brendan O'Donnell, who is following in his footsteps by committing to North Dakota of the WCHA. O'Donnell was one of the top twenty scorers in the Manitoba junior league, as well as rookie of the year, and will likely play a season for Penticton in the BCHL before heading off to join the Fighting Sioux.