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Prospect of the Week: October 16, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for October 16, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).

Thank you, Patrick Roy.

One of the most underrated pieces of Lightning news in the past 15 months is Patrick Roy, then general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, drafting young Nikita Kucherov out of Russia in the CHL Import Draft.

Sergeev Steps Up for Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was an eventful weekend for Artem Sergeev.

The Syracuse Crunch defenseman notched his first professional goal in a 5-1 rout of Rochester on Saturday, then followed it up with his first professional fight against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Simon Despres on Sunday.

"It was actually pretty quick off a faceoff, (Brett) Connolly did a great job winning the draw right to my one-timer side," Sergeev said of his power play goal. "I didn't hesitate."

Rookie Witkowski Quickly Earning Zettler’s Trust

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After his first game of the season, Luke Witkowski wasn’t all that thrilled with the results.

The defenseman, in his first full professional season out of Western Michigan University, was the only Syracuse Crunch player to register a plus-3 rating in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Binghamton Senators last Saturday.

"Personally, plus-3, that's alright," Witkowski said. "Obviously, the outcome of the game wasn't what I wanted or what anyone else wanted. So, maybe on the stat sheet it looked good, but there's still some other things I need to work on."

With only six games of American Hockey League experience on his resume, Witkowski is just trying to keep his game simple as he develops.

The 23-year-old’s first game of the season impressed Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, who expects to keep Witkowski paired with Dmitry Korobov, who was plus-20 in 65 games with the Crunch last season, for the foreseeable future.

JT Brown Ready for Bigger Role

By Jeremy Houghtaling

No longer a rookie, JT Brown’s role with the Syracuse Crunch has changed.

Last year, the Minnesota native learned how to grind it out and shut down the opposition’s top lines. At Thursday’s practice at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Brown was paired with first-rounder Vlad Namestnikov and top prospect Nikita Kucherov on a scoring line.

Prospect of the Week: October 9, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for September 24, 2013 is … Henri Ikonen, W (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).

Watching the Lightning’s camp this September, a smallish forward kept demanding my attention with his energy and surprisingly successful plays along the boards. At least three times I remember thinking to myself, “Who is 57 again?” before seeing “Ikonen, Henri” on the roster in front of me.

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman likes skill and compete level in prospects and Ikonen boasts both. He also grades out high in hockey sense, another prioritized trait by Yzerman.

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