Usually, we like to release our midterm rankings… well, you know … mid-term, but this has been an atypical year. When the World Junior Championships ended in early January, we had some movers and shakers on the list, but the Lightning were struggling so mightily at that time rumors were running rampant that Tampa Bay would go into full sell mode. We decided to wait until acquired prospects were added, but by the time Wilcox was out and Cernak in, the end of the junior hockey regular season was just around the corner. And that’s where we are now. So, with a tardy slip firmly in hand, here’s the list – finally.
For as bad as the Lightning have been for the majority of the season, this may be the most productive prospect season since Brad Richards and Sheldon Keefe were winning their league scoring titles and the original triplets (Palat-Johnson-Panik) were winning an AHL title. Syracuse has been in first place for most of the year, and while the prospects there have spent more time eating peanuts on planes between Tampa and Syracuse, there has been progress developmentally with the AHL guys. Add to that the season (graduated prospect) Nikita Gusev had, junior stars Raddysh, Joseph, Ingram, etc, and the emergence of Ross Colton in college hockey and it’s been a good year. But how do they all sort out in the rankings?
Glad you asked.
This week’s “’94 Draft” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The No. 94
· A TB prospect world, long ago
· Chicago game reaction (Are you kidding me?)
· Team daring you to bury it
· Kucherov vs Drouin
· Point vs Dotchin
· Interview with Libor Hajek
· Rankings reaction, 10-16
Previous: Midterm Rankings 1-10
11. RW Dennis Yan, Shawinigan (QMJHL) (14)
Vitals: 6-1, 183 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round, 2015
Season totals: 64 GP, 46-29-75, +23, 52 PIM
Yan took a big step forward this year in that he never slumped like he did last season when the second half of the year was filled with goose eggs on the scoresheet. Not good for a guy who’s job it is to score. Yan did just that this year, though, raising his goal totals from 33 and 32 the previous two seasons to 46 in his final junior season. His assist numbers fell from 37 to 29, but a lot of that could have been due to the loss of Anthony Beauvillier, who’s now with the Islanders, and the fall of Alexis D’Aoust, who went from 98 points to 60 in 50 games. Yan will enter Syracuse next year under the watchful eye of Crunch coach Benoit Groulx, who will have the task of developing Yan’s 2-way game. The USA-born, Russian-raised Yan wasn’t heavily considered for Team USA this year for the WJC’s despite his goal-scoring ability, but then again Alex DeBrincat was cut from the team and they still won Gold. Yan will probably be a hot-and-cold scorer for Syracuse next year. The sooner he can find consistency and excel at playing both sides of the puck, the sooner the Lightning will promote him.
Previous: Midterm Rankings 11-19
20. C Christopher Paquette, Niagara/Peterborough (OHL) (Not ranked)
Vitals: 6-2, 201 lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 2016
Season totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM
When Paquette was drafted last summer, the Lightning hoped he’d have a Cirelli-like rise. Cirelli was drafted as a lower-line guy who didn’t get a lot of ice time until late in the year. Paquette was a fourth line player on a stacked Niagara squad whom the Lightning identified as a potential riser. Paquette got up to the second line on Niagara this year, playing on the wing. In a surprise move, the Petes acquired him at the deadline to be a big center for their push to the conference’s top seed. Mission accomplished. Paquette settled in as a center for Peterborough and worked his way up to top-line duty. He’s far from polished, but could use this playoff experience to catapult himself into a big season next year with the Petes. He has good skills, but is still relatively new to a role this big in the OHL. It’s all coming together nicely. He looks like he could be a nice depth forward down the line at the least. Cedric’s cousin is one to watch.
KHL Western Conference Finals
(2)St. Petersburg 4 vs. (4)Yaroslavl 1
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 2-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 5-7-12, +4, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM
Nikita Gusev had a power play assist on an Ilya Kovalchuk goal in SKA's 4-1 Game Two win over Yaroslavl. He played 16:41 in the match. Ex-Penguins and Coyotes forward Sergei Plotnikov led the way for SKA with 2 goals and 3 points in the victory. Meanwhile, in the East, top seed Magnitogorsk has a 1-0 series lead on third seeded Ak Bars Kazan.
Tye McGinn knew he couldn’t sit around and sulk.
The Syracuse Crunch winger missed 53 games over the course of four-plus months as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery, but hardly took the time off. Instead, he put in the work to come back stronger than before.
McGinn and the Crunch have seen immediate dividends, as the veteran forward has points in eight of his last nine games since returning.
“I dedicated a lot of the four months of rehab to working hard,” McGinn said. “I wanted to be in top shape when I came back, and I did a lot of work with the trainers and felt really good coming back. I think our team is playing really well right now, and I’m just kind of working with everyone. The puck is just going in right now.”
This week’s “Daren Puppa Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The No. 93
· TB’s first great goaltender
· How close are the Lightning to the edge of the cliff?
· Junior season over; playoffs loom
· Prospect thoughts based on rankings, 16-25
This week’s “Aaron Gavey Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The No. 92
· TB strutting down street, flaunting massive amount of chest hair
· Gourde, depth stepping up big
· How does Jo Drouin compare to other young stars?
As the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone through the 2016-17 regular season, their seemingly consistent string of injuries to key players has created the need for call-ups from the Syracuse Crunch at levels unseen in seasons past.
The term "TampaCuse" has been used to describe the shuttle of players between the clubs throughout the season more than normal this year.
During Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, the Lightning dressed five players who began the year with the Crunch in the American Hockey League – defenseman Jake Dotchin and forwards Adam Erne, Yanni Gourde, Matthew Peca, and Luke Witkowski.
While each of these players has contributed in an important way for the Lightning this season, Erne and Gourde are two prospects who have been particularly impressive of late.
This week’s “Steven F. Stamkos Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The No. 91
· Where were you when…
· Stamkos rankings
· Trade deadline’s impact on Lightning off the ice
· Defensemen, not defenseman, a summer project
· Syracuse gets deadline attention
· Interview with Dominik Masin
· Syracuse Coach Benoit Groulx talks Dom Masin development