Slater Koekkoek is confident about his path to the National Hockey League.
Despite a shoulder injury prematurely ending his final junior season, Koekkoek led the Windsor Spitfires' blueline in goals, assists, and points last season. But the Tampa Bay Lightning 2012 first-rounder is focused on rounding out his defensive game as he begins his professional career with the Syracuse Crunch.
"There's always pressure being a first round pick. It's a label and people are going to talk about it," Koekkoek said. "But everybody has their own road to the NHL. There's a lot of guys in the NHL that went after me, and there's some guys still not in the NHL that went before me. There's no timetable. I'll develop as fast as I can, and hopefully get called up whenever they need me."
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for October 21, 2014 is … Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).
#Soon became #Now this week when the long-awaited arrival of Jonathan Drouin finally happened. The Lightning’s top-rated prospect made his NHL debut on Monday night in Edmonton, creating several scoring chances in what was an overall sloppy team loss for the Bolts.
It was a feeling Henri Ikonen couldn’t describe.
Representing Finland in the 2014 World Junior Championships and winning his homeland’s first gold medal since 1998 was a memory he will never forget.
To top it off, the Finns beat host (and rival) Sweden in overtime.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Ikonen said. “The best two weeks of my life.”
With his professional career just getting started, Ikonen is hoping to make many more memories like the one he had in Sweden. But the Syracuse Crunch forward is taking it one step at a time.
“I just go to the rink every morning and do my best there,” Ikonen said.
This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· Lightning early season review
· Jonathan Drouin, Coming #Soon?
· BP Mailbag (Connolly vs Vladdy, Morrow vs Panik, Zettler's hot seat, Next prospect star?)
· Weekly prospect review
We begin another season of our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for October 15, 2014 is … Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).
When Vladdy Namestnikov was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he was a pencil-thin kamikaze forward with the London Knights with a sweet set of hands. It’s said every draft, and every draft it’s ignored – teams don’t draft for now, they draft for five years from now.
Two games into his professional career, Dylan Blujus is showing he belongs in the AHL.
The 20-year-old defenseman made his pro debut with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday against Springfield, and over two games last weekend had an even plus-minus rating with six shots.
"It went pretty well, just getting that first pro game under my belt felt nice," Blujus said. "Get the nerves out early, now I can start playing my game and start making plays."
Despite a few expected hiccups, Crunch coach Rob Zettler was impressed with the puck movement by each of his rookie defensemen.
Nearly six months have passed since the last Syracuse Crunch regular season game.
One season removed from a Calder Cup playoff run that lasted well into June, the offseason began after the final horn at the Onondaga County War Memorial April 19. For Crunch coach Rob Zettler, who coached in the 2013 finals and spent the bulk of the ensuing offseason hiring a new coaching staff, the extended summer gave him time to reflect.
"This year it was too much time," Zettler said. "A lot of time to think about it."
This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast includes the following topics:
· The past and future of Richard Panik
· How good can Brett Connolly be?
· Vladdy Namestnikov, NHLer and Lightning posterchild
· Andrej Sustr's upside
· Former prospects Dustin Tokarski and Cory Conacher with big opportunities in front of them
· Lightning season prediction
This week we introduced our first podcast. The first edition addresses questions asked via the #BPMailbag on Twitter (@BoltProspects) and our forum about the Lightning and Syracuse Crunch organizations. Additional topics include the Nashville rookie tournament, roster speculation, and comparing this year's Crunch squad to the championship Norfolk club.
With today’s Part 4, we close the book on our late offseason Who’s Trending? series that examines rising or falling player values. As we’ve mentioned many times, the great part about hockey – and especially developmental hockey – is this is subject to change. This is The Afanasenkov Rule.
The series includes current prospects and players that started last season as prospects who remain in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
Part 4: Recent Graduates