The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is going to bring several changes for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Success on the ice means sitting a long way from the front row at the NHL Entry Draft. With the team advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, the Lightning moved from picking 6th overall last year to picking 27th overall this year. That means the Lightning won't have the top talent in the draft available to them in 2011 the same way it was in the past 3 drafts when the team selected Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Brett Connolly. That's not to say that the Lightning won't have the opportunity to draft some very good players, though. Since 1980, the 27th overall pick has yielded many high caliber players like Scott Mellanby, Joe Nieuwendyk, Tie Domi, Boris Mironov, Rhett Warrener, and Scott Gomez, as well as former Lightning fan favorites Ben Clymer and Cory Sarich. Picking in the 20's sometimes allows playoff caliber teams to have access to lottery pick caliber talent that slips either due to being small in stature, late bloomers, or having other issues that make other teams leery to take a chance on them (see: Downie, Steve).
With the 2010-2011 season happily lasting much longer than the last few seasons, we find ourselves in the month of June before releasing our 2010-2011 Final Rankings. This season brought a new word into the Lightning prospect fans' vocabulary: "patience." With only Dana Tyrell graduating this season, the Lightning made sure their top prospects had a little more time on the vine to ripen. At the same time, though, attrition cost the Lightning some of its better prospects, as was the case with Mitch Fadden who allowed off-the-ice issues to cost him a spot in the organization. And, other prospects had lackluster seasons that led us to believe that perhaps the chances of their NHL futures were limited. Towards that end, we made the editorial decision to trim our rankings down from their typical 25 to 20 for this Final Rankings. We will be raising the list back to 25 after the NHL Entry Draft in a few weeks when we release a supplement to these rankings.
The rules are simple: any skater prospect who was under 24 years of age on opening night of the Lightning's season and has played less than 41 NHL games in any single season and less than 82 career NHL games is eligible for the rankings. This excludes, for instance, Blair Jones. For goaltenders, any netminder who has earned less than 30 NHL decisions in any single season and less than 41 career NHL decisions and was under 24 years of age on opening night is eligible for the rankings. That excludes Cedrick Desjardins, for instance, who turned 25 in September. The exception to these basic rules are NCAA based players, who are considered eligible prospects for the duration of their college careers regardless of age.
As we start the stretch run of the 2010-2011 hockey season, BoltProspects is proud to announce its midterm rankings for the prospects of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
As is tradition, we will begin by reciting the rules of the rankings. Any skater prospect who was under 24 years of age on opening night of the Lightning's season and has played less than 41 NHL games in any single season and less than 82 career NHL games is eligible for the rankings. This excludes, for instance, winger Johan Harju, who turned 24 last May and is now considered an overage prospect, and Dana Tyrell, who has already played 52 games this season and is considered to be graduated from prospect status. For goaltenders, any netminder who has earned less than 30 NHL decisions in any single season and less than 41 career NHL decisions and was under 24 years of age on opening night is eligible for the rankings. That excludes Cedrick Desjardins, for instance, who turned 25 in September. The exception to these basic rules are NCAA based players, who are considered eligible prospects for the duration of their college careers regardless of age.
With the typical legal disclaimers out of the way, here are our 2010-2011 Midterm Rankings:
Now that the 2010-2011 NHL season is underway it is time for BoltProspects' 2010-2011 Preliminary Rankings of the Lightning's top twenty-five prospects. This year's installment reflects a talent pool that has both high-end prospects and depth for perhaps the first time in the club's history, a fact that was celebrated by both GM Steve Yzerman and Head Coach Guy Boucher during training camp this fall. The Lightning is still looking for high end talent at the defenseman position, but at forward and between the pipes there's no doubting the potential.
Before we proceed, I am required to recite the BoltProspects prospect criteria rules. As always, any player 24 years of age or older on opening night of the Lightning's season (10/9/10) is not eligible for inclusion on the list and will be considered an overage prospect. The prime example of this rule is versatile forward Johan Harju, who turned 24 in May, and therefore is not eligible for this year's list. The same is true for forward Blair Jones, who turned 24 in September. The exception to this rule is NCAA-based players, who remain eligible for the list until the completion of their college careers. Prospects under 24 will be considered graduated to the NHL level when they meet the appropriate criteria for games played or decisions. For skaters, any player who appears in 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games is no longer considered a prospect. For goaltenders, any netminder who has 30 or more decisions in a single NHL season or 41 or more career NHL decisions will be considered graduated.
Now that that's out of the way, Guy Boucher says no more d-to-d passes. Let's go:
redwingscentral.com has posted the Lightning's Traverse City Prospects Tournament roster. The pre-training camp warm-up tourney is scheduled for September 11-15 in Traverse City, MI.
The roster includes 15 Lightning prospects and 7 free agent invitees. The roster features the goaltending tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus, as well as 2010 #6 overall pick Brett Connolly. Five other 2010 draftees, all defensemen, make up one of the tournament's youngest bluelines and includes Brock Beukeboom, Radko Gudas, Adam Janosik, Geoffrey Schemitsch, and Teigan Zahn. The only other backliner is '08 draftee Mark Barberio.
The roster sports seven free agent tryouts, all forwards, including three returnees from the July Prospect Camp in Tampa. Getting a second look will be Jonathan Lessard, Andrew Agozzino, and the hat-trick star of the Young Guns scrimmage Brandon Hynes. Tim Marks, currently under AHL contract with the Norfolk Admirals, gets his chance to continue on the path to be the organization's next Paul Szczechura. Matt Butcher joins the Bolts squad as a graduate of Northern Michigan University, a prolific scorer in the BCHL and an unsigned 2005 5th round pick of the Vancouver Canucks. The final two invitees include Marc-Olivier Vachon, a diminutive winger who was coached by Guy Boucher at Drummondville during the '08-'09 season, and Harvard graduate Doug Rogers. Rogers, an unsigned '06 draftee of the New York Islanders, played alongside Lightning prospect Alex Killorn for the last couple years for the Crimson.
Conspicuous in their absence from the TC roster are goaltender Michael Zador, and forwards Brendan O'Donnell, and James Mullin. Zador is expected to return to the nets for Oshawa (OHL) this coming season, while '10 draftees O'Donnell and Mullin are expecting to play for Penticton (BCHL) and Fargo (USHL), respectively.
This roster has been officially confirmed by the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.