It's a compressed run up to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft this week, thanks to the Lightning's deep playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. As a result, we'll be rolling both our 2015 Final Rankings and our 2015 NHL Entry Draft Preview all in the same day. So, happy binge reading.
This year was a mixed bag for the prospects of the Tampa Bay Lightning system. In terms of actually delivering players to the NHL, the team had three players reach graduation from prospect status (Paquette, Drouin, and Namestnikov), while three other current prospects (Nesterov, Marchessault, and Vasilevskiy) all saw time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team also can boast a fairly top-heavy slate of prospects dotted with a few crown jewels, most notably the afore mentioned Vasilevskiy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2015 season has come to a close in mid-June, leaving precious little time for us here at Bolt Prospects to get you caught up for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Before we do, though, lets take a moment to reflect on just how important the draft and the minor league developmental system have been to the Lightning's success thus far. The team climbed the mountain all the way to the Stanley Cup Final this year, and while they didn't get all the way to the summit, they got a peek at the promised land largely on the strength of draft picks and other prospects who came of age in this organization.
Looking at all the players who saw time in the 2015 NHL Playoffs, there were 13 Bolt Prospects alumni and three current Bolt Prospects on a roster of 24 players that saw time in the postseason. Of those 16, 11 came to the Lightning via the NHL Entry Draft with Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown, and Andrej Sustr coming via free agency, and Ben Bishop and Jonathan Marchessault coming to the team via trade. So, nearly half of the team that came within an eyelash of winning it all this season came to the team through the draft. This event in late June matters. A lot.
Beginning last June and through free agency, the regular season, and all the way to the end of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals the Lightning gave its fans plenty of excitement.
It’s a good thing, because there’s a boring offseason ahead. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Last year the Bolts were swinging deals and signing free agents to shore up their defense (Garrison, Stralman), bottom six forwards (Boyle, Morrow), and backup goalie (Nabokov).
There aren’t many needs for the Eastern Conference champs now, though there are some areas in need of improvement.
First, a look at who’s on the way out:
· The No. 31
· New prospect in the system – and Yzerman is after another one
· Current prospect on the move
· Former prospect named AHL head coach – and he’s now a division rival of Syracuse
· Drouin gets in
· #BPMailbag (You have one trade to make – who goes? … Stamkos’ ice time in question … Sign Marty? … The future of JT Brown … Walcott’s worth … Drouin’s value up or down? … Home game vs road game changing places)
The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Blainville-Boisbriand overage defenseman and captain Daniel Walcott Monday, adding a puck-moving defenseman to the organizational roster.
The Lightning have had an abundance of success under Steve Yzerman picking up undersized cast-offs who can skate and have a high hockey IQ and skill level. Walcott certainly fits the mold. He stands just 5’11” and weighs under 2-bills, but put up 41 points in 54 games with the Armada as a 20-year-old this season.
· The No. 30
· Ben Bishop’s consistency … or is it inconsistency?
· Power forward Adam Erne’s chances of making the Lightning in the fall and which TB player’s game he needs to emulate
· #BPMailbag (Camp predictions for Vladdy, Drouin, Marchessault … TB’s youth showing in playoffs … If Carle goes, who’s his replacement? … This player is a Bear Face … Gusev watching Kucherov? … Sustr’s ceiling … Is Carle the cornerback opposite Deion Sanders?)
This week's “Alex Selivanov Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 29
· Playoff lessons learned and not learned
· Shutting down the #FreeDrouin campaign
· Would the real Andrej Sustr please stand up?
· #BPMailbag (Draft predictions … Drouin in the AHL … Drouin vs Connolly … More Drouin ... Prospects on the hot seat … Palat for Selke any time soon? … Justin Courtnall’s future … Tim Tebow)
This week's “Marc Bureau Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 28
· What the Black Aces roster tells us
· Prospects in the playoffs
· Accolades for DeAngelo
· #BPMailbag (Stress and the playoffs … Where does the blame finger point? … Odds on Erne and DeAngelo with TB next year … Crazy trade thoughts … Would you rather? … More on Drouin … Generational talent … Stamkos salary … Stamkos vs Johnson … Expansion Draft what-ifs)
This week's “Tim Taylor Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 27
· The Lightning can be better
· There’s a more dangerous lineup available
· Prospect playoff updates
· Interview with Adam Wilcox
· #BPMailbag (Which prospects project to be better than their NHL counterparts? … Carle to Edmonton? … Set plays vs spontaneous plays)
Adam Wilcox understands there’s still a lot to learn.
After finishing his junior season at the University of Minnesota, Wilcox played a pair of games between the pipes for the Syracuse Crunch. The 22-year-old goalie, signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning to an entry level contract earlier this month, has begun to make the adjustments necessary to be successful at the professional level.
“We’re looking at two things for the rest of the year, and the first is traffic and screened shots,” Wilcox said of what he was working on with Crunch goaltending and video coach David Alexander. “There are a lot bigger bodies in this league and it goes a lot faster and the shots get off quicker. That’s probably one of the biggest adjustments. Number two is just continuing to have good rebound control so you don’t have so many broken plays and scramble plays.”