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2015 Draft Review: Focus on the Bigger Picture

Another draft has come and gone in Lightningland and the NFL-Draft-trained masses are expecting a grade and a winner or loser label.

Not happening here, sorry. There are few things as meaningless as draft grades the day after a draft. Reactions now to a draft will be completely different in five years, but you already knew that.

That soapbox aside, we can look at what the Lightning did this weekend and compare it to our system pre-draft wish list for player position and player types. Of course, Lightning Director of Scouting Al Murray said the club doesn’t pay attention to positions. He also said we wouldn't believe him.

“We don’t care where you play, just that you play the way we want you to play,” he told Lightning Radio.

Lightning Can Start Syracuse Re-build at Draft

One of the things we've seen repeatedly in the Yzerman-Murray drafts is the penchant to spend a pick or two on players with the potential to immediately impact the Syracuse Crunch. Twice Head Amateur Scout Al Murray has spent first round picks on older first-time draft-eligible players (Namestnikov and DeAngelo) that could be fast tracked to the AHL after just one additional junior season. With later round draftees Cedric Paquette and Henri Ikonen, Murray once again dipped into the 19-year-old pool, allowing Syracuse to benefit from them have quicker access to the professional development pipeline. We've also seen Murray draft three players that were basically draft-and-sign guys (Ondrej Palat, Kristers Gudlevskis, and Cameron Darcy) that were eligible to immediately slot into the AHL after being drafted. Gudlevskis (pictured) was drafted out of Europe, and while Darcy just wasn't quite ready last year, the expectation when he selected was that he'd transition immediately to Syracuse or ECHL Florida. In this article, I'll first highlight some of the one-and-done players from Pete Choquette's 2015 Bolt Prospects Draft Review, and I'll also throw out at least five players to keep your eye on in the later rounds as potential draft-and-sign guys that could help the Crunch this fall.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 32

This week's “Corey Schwab Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The No. 32
· Playoff review: What went right? What went wrong?
· Offseason preview: options exist
· Draft preview: types to target
· Latest prospect rankings: Who’s up, who’s down?

2014-2015 Final Prospect Rankings

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.

2015 Bolt Prospects Draft Preview

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.

Lightning Offseason Preview

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 Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 31

This week's “Karri Ramo Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· 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)

Walcott More of the Same for Syracuse, Tampa Bay

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 Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 30

This week's “Ben Bishop Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· 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?)

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 29

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)

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