With the graduation of Brett Connolly from prospect status, it's finally time to release Bolt Prospects' 2011-2012 Midterm Rankings. While difficult for the Lightning at the NHL level, this season has proven to be incredibly exciting for the development of the team's prospects. The Lightning have never boasted such incredible depth in the system, and that depth extends to overage prospects like Trevor Smith, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and J.T. Wyman, who have made positive contributions to the big club during injury recalls. The team should also be excited about the performance of AHL signees like Philip-Michael Devos and Cory Conacher, the latter of whom is a lock to earn an NHL entry-level contract from the Lightning very soon.
Now that the season has begun, it's time to update our prospect rankings here on Bolt Prospects. Readers of the site know the drill, as we update our rankings three times during the season and add Supplemental Rankings shortly after the draft each year. But, for new readers, or for those who might've forgotten the rules, here's our legal disclaimer regarding prospect eligibility.
Bolt Prospects considers any prospect 24 years of age or older on opening night of the Lightning's season to be an overage prospect and ineligible for inclusion on the list. As a consequence, older prospects like Mattias Ritola, Blair Jones, and Johan Harju are no longer included on our list. The exception to the 24 year old rule is NCAA players, who shall remain eligible for the rankings so long as they remain in college. Bolt Prospects also has rules pertaining to a player's graduation from prospect status that also determines eligibility for the rankings. For skaters, any player who has played 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games is ineligible for the list. As a consequence, players like James Wright and Dana Tyrell are ineligible for the list. For goaltenders, any player who receives 30 or more NHL decisions in a single season or 41 or more NHL decisions in a career is ineligible.
With all that in mind, here are Bolt Prospects 2011-2012 Preliminary Rankings:
Now that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is over, Bolt Prospects is issuing its 2011 Supplemental Rankings. The rankings add the 2011 draft picks, subtract prospects who did not receive qualifying offers from the club, and reflect some slight adjustments in the rankings based on changes in the depth chart. The remainder of this story includes the placement of the 2011 draft picks. For a full look at our Top-25 Rankings, please take a look at our Prospects page.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the roster for their 2011 development camp today. The roster, which includes three former first round picks, consists of 17 forwards, nine defensemen and four goaltenders. The camp will be held Wednesday, July 6 though Wednesday, July 13 at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, FL. The camp is open to the public and the schedule will be released at a later date.
Highlights of the roster include the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Brett Connolly, who recently signed an entry-level contract with the Lightning, as well as this summerâ€™s first-round selection, Vladislav Namestnikov. Former first-round pick Carter Ashton and highly-touted prospect Richard Panik are also expected to attend.
Of the attendees, only James Wright played a game in the NHL last season, while 10 players played at least one in the American Hockey League. The roster also includes 22 players drafted by the Lightning, three signed as free agents and five invitees.
Included in the roster are four players from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, recently held at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Those players are Namestnikov, forwards Ondrej Palat and Matthew Peca, as well as goaltender Adam Wilcox.
The youngest player is Peca, at 18 years and two months, while the oldest is Jeff Dimmen at 25-years-old.
Free agent invitees include forwards Cory Conacher, Gabriel Desjardins, Philip-Michael Devos, Seth Griffith and blueliner Jeff Dimmen. Dimmen and Devos have AHL contracts in place with the Norfolk Admirals for the 2011-12 season.
Complete roster attached to this story.
The scouting community's general consensus for the whole draft class is that it is not top heavy, but it is incredibly deep. Nowhere is that more evident than on the blueline, where Skelleftea's Adam Larsson, Kitchener's Ryan Murphy, and Niagara's Dougie Hamilton look like the only locks to go in the lottery picks. However, beyond those three blue chippers, the list of quality defenseman prospects is long enough that teams picking in the 3rd round may still have access to some quality talent. Most interestingly, there's not a draft in the last decade that's had as many quality, mobile, puck-moving defensemen as this one, which may be a particular benefit for the Lightning.
As we discussed in yesterday's Introduction and Goaltenders posting, the Tampa Bay Lightning's biggest hole, prospect-wise, is probably on defense. And, there's probably a little more urgency to fill that hole given there are some aging veterans on defense on the big club like Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, and Brett Clark. There's also the matter of the Lightning's switch to the 1-3-1, which is predicated on having mobile puck moving blueliners and doesn't have as much use for the big redwoods like Andy Rogers or Vladimir Mihalik that the Lightning used to pick. The organization does boast a couple of quality defenseman prospects in heady two-way defender Mark Barberio and rough-and-tumble Radko Gudas, both of whom had very respectable rookie seasons with Norfolk in the AHL this year. Behind them, the Lightning have already started to add to their depth by adding mobile puck movers Adam Janosik, Charles Landry, Geoffrey Schemitsch. But there are no blue chippers in the organization that seem like locks for the NHL, and the team could definitely use prospects of that nature for future salary cap purposes. Toward that end, here are 10 prospects that might be viable alternatives for the Lightning at pick 27 on Friday night: