The 2015-2016 season is getting smaller in the rearview mirror and the 2016 offseason is almost half over. The Lightning appear to have had a solid draft at first glance, but time will be the ultimate judge. The club followed the excitement around the draft with potentially the biggest offseason in its history, locking up Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman until well into the 2020’s. Alex Killorn joined the core club just a few weeks later.
With old-timers coming back and new blood in the system, it’s time for our annual Supplemental Rankings, where we insert the club’s latest draftees into our existing list of top prospects.
This week’s “Ruslan Fedotenko Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The No. 70
· Re-signings and RFA watch
· Complete draft review with prospect descriptions from Al Murray
· Organizational depth chart worry
· Stamkos to …
The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is over, and thanks to ESPN’s football draft coverage, everyone expects an immediate grade. Well, as stated last year, we don’t do that. At least not yet; check back in five years.
We’ll rate it this way: Going into the draft we laid out the following player types on a need/want/wish list. Need doesn’t mean Tampa Bay Lightning NHL need, because no one they were going to pick at 27 or beyond was going to help this year or next (or the next?) anyway. Need covers an organizational need as it pertains to variety and depth. We can also look at perceived value per round, but you can usually stop after the fourth round on that because anything after the fourth round is a flier anyway and the probability of that player filling a need in the future organizational picture is possible, but low.
So, looking at the Lightning's 2016 draft, let’s compare who was taken with our wish list.
Here’s what’s going to happen Friday: The Lightning will take a center with their first choice in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and immediately 10,000 Lightning fans will take to social media to declare this newest Bolt prospect as the immediate replacement for 91, and this draft pick proves he’s gone.
Well, partially wrong.
The 2015-2016 season provided a mixed bag of results for the prospect pipeline of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. A glass-half-full view would point out the organization weathered one of the most extreme stress tests to a club's depth imaginable. Entering the playoffs without its top goal scorer and second-best defenseman and eventually losing its No. 1 goaltender to injury for an extended period of time in the postseason, the Lightning still managed to advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals partly on the performance of some of its top young players.
A glass-half-empty view, however, would point to the disappointing performance of the team's AHL affiliate, which missed the postseason leading to the dismissal of Head Coach Rob Zettler and the hiring of new Head Coach Benoit Groulx entering the 2016-2017 campaign. That's not to say there weren't developmental successes to point to on the Syracuse Crunch roster. But, the smashing success the club had with their affiliate under Jon Cooper had given way to a far more modest, underwhelming new normal that was ultimately not acceptable to the brain trust of Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman and Crunch GM Julien BriseBois.
This week’s “Doug Glatt Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 69
· Playoff review depends on perspective
· Who stepped up?
· Who stepped down?
· What happens next? A game of dominoes.
· How TB can contend again
· Prospects who are positioned to contribute
· #BPMailbag (Erne timing … Fantasy roster … Point vs Peca vs Vladdy vs TJ ... Goalie questions)
The Lightning’s offseason started late Thursday night when the final buzzer eventually sounded at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. Despite a pretty solid effort for the first two rounds of the playoffs and into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Lightning’s regular season warts reared their ugly heads as the Pens series progressed.
After last season’s run to the finals the Lightning believed that defense was the way to go further this year — and it almost worked. They spent the entire regular season focused on team defense and conservative counter attacks. The club was called “boring” many times during the regular season, and their league-leading offense from the previous year fell to mediocrity. Add to that inconsistent effort nearly every week – usually in the first period. “It’s a 60-minute game” was said ad nauseum, and eventually the Lightning, with a 3-2 series lead on Pittsburgh, only played with an attacking mindset the third periods of Game 6 and Game 7. Those four periods when they sat back and trusted their defensive structure – in and of itself not a horrible decision – cost them.
This week’s “Aaron Gavey Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 68
· Most gruesome injury in Lightning history?
· New affiliate in the family
· Youth keeping Lightning in Cup quest
· Koekkoek climbs another rung of depth chart ladder
· Stamkos question still burning
· Two strategic RFA prospect signings
· The No. 67
· Pitt-TB review and why Game 3 was so important
· Meat vests
· The team can win with Vasy
· Vasy vs Bishop
· #BPMailbag (Core players … Annoying comments … How big is the Cup window? … Fast-forwarding prospects)
This week’s “He Who Plays for a Team that Shan’t Be Named Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 66
· Flightless birds lack intelligence
· Conference Final will be determined by…
· Koekkoek’s made his move
· Zettler out in Syracuse; what went wrong?
· Groulx brings energy, expectations to Crunch