As a part of our summer cleaning at Bolt Prospects, we've updated the profiles for the Top 20 prospects in the organization and we will likely complete updates for every other pertinent prospect in the organization over the next month or two.
In addition, because they went unsigned and the Lightning no longer hold their rights, Marek Bartanus, Kevin Beech and Jan Zapletal have been removed from the prospects page. We suspect this is but the opening salvo of a summer housecleaning as the Lightning are expected to let several prospects and overage prospect walk once free agency hits in July.
Finally, with regard to draft coverage, Bolt Prospects has again ordered Red Line Report's draft guide and will be blending their insight with that of other sources to provide our draft coverage later this month. Because the Lightning do not hold a first round selection, we won't be doing comprehensive profiles on potential draftees prior to the draft but Bolt Prospects will again be the place to turn to for draft capsules of new Lightning prospects as they are selected.
Thanks as always to our readers.
Bolt Prospects 2006-2007 Final Rankings
2006-2007 was a difficult season for the prospects of the Tampa Bay Lightning. After two years of modest improvement with their full affiliation in Springfield of the AHL and a large crop of talented junior scorers coming into the organization, expectations were that this was the season the Falcons and the Lightning organization would finally turn the corner. Expectations were not met, and the Falcons took a large step backward with a miserable second half of the season that led to the dissolving of the affiliation. The Lightning also saw ties severed with their ECHL affiliate in Johnstown after two years of control over hockey operations only led to a pair of 5th place divisional finishes.
The Bolt Prospects 2006-2007 Final Rankings reflect the painful lessons of a campaign which, for the Lightning's minor league system, was one of the worst in recent memory. As a consequence of overall poor play indicating a lack of depth, the Bolt Prospects staff voted unanimously to trim the Top-25 rankings to 20 for the first time in the history of the site. Make no mistake, the decision is an indictment of what we saw from the Lightning's prospects in 2006-2007. There are passengers in this organization, and we suspect several of them will begin to be culled from the organizational roster during the off season. The rankings are also an indictment of the promising class of young rookie forwards who failed so spectacularly to make an impact in their pro debuts. On the bright side though, they also show the strength the organization has developed at the goaltending and defenseman positions. Of our top ten prospects, only one (Blair Jones) is a forward, while four are goaltenders and five are blueliners.
So, without further adieu, here are the Bolt Prospects 2006-2007 Final Rankings. They are the last of a year we'd rather forget and a starting point on the way to 2007-2008, a new season and a new affiliation with Norfolk of the AHL that we hope will bring redemption for some of the organization's young talent.
As of 6/02/08
As of 6/02/08
1|Jussi Jokinen|LW|5.11|188|Tampa Bay (NHL)
2|Nick Tarnasky|LW|6.01|218|Tampa Bay (NHL)
3|Ryan Craig|LW/C|6.02|220|Tampa Bay (NHL) (RFA)
4|Karl Stewart|LW/C|5.11|180|Tampa Bay (NHL) (RFA)
5|Justin Keller|LW|5.11|195|Norfolk (AHL)
6|Radek Smolenak|LW|6.02|180|Norfolk (AHL)
7|Brandon Elliott|LW/D|6.04|225|Mississippi (ECHL) (RFA)