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 February 25 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse (AHL – USA)
Ondrej Palat doesn’t make headlines.
The Syracuse Crunch forward is a complimentary winger, usually photographed in the background of a dramatic goal or its celebration. But without him, that play probably doesn’t happen.
Palat gives a scoring line 2-way ability or playmaking, whichever is needed the most. Like Martin St. Louis with the Lightning, if a coach adds him to a line, that line gets better.
By Pete Choquette
It's been a long, strange trip for Bolt Prospects to arrive at this year's Midterm Prospect Rankings. Between the end of the NHL lockout and an abbreviated training camp, call-ups, graduations, and trades, there's been a lot of movement in the rankings. One lesson learned from the first half of this season: no more standing still for Lightning prospects. Even first and second round picks can't afford to stagnate in their development with so much quality depth within the organization. More than that, the youth movement is already beginning in Tampa Bay with three prospects currently up with the Lightning and recently graduated Keith Aulie also with the NHL club.
Desjardins, 27, has appeared in 22 games this season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, compiling a record of 7-13-2 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. The Edmundston, New Brunswick, native has played in two career NHL games, both with the Lightning during the 2010-11 season, picking up a pair of victories while recording a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage.
The Syracuse Crunch's recent slide is the result of a myriad of factors.
After losing two straight games and six of their last seven, it is impossible for the Crunch to pinpoint one specific problem. With a little bit of everything to blame, the answers range from a mix of bad luck and tough opposition in net to defensive lapses and a lack of scoring.
“We just haven’t been playing the way we want to play,” said Crunch forward Tyler Johnson.
The Crunch hopes to remedy one of those problems, an absence of offense, by combining their top three point-scorers on the same line. With Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Brett Connolly practicing on the same unit, Syracuse hopes it becomes the team's slump-buster when Albany and Adirondack visit the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday and Saturday.
Jean-Philippe Cote has changed in many ways since his brief stint in the National Hockey League seven years ago.
The defenseman's experience since has helped show him how to do his job better, and he might be even a little faster. But he knows his chances of a call-up have likely passed.
"Obviously, there's that dream still, but I do know my role," Cote said. "I know, compared to maybe five years ago, I'm not the next guy on the list (of guys being called-up)."
Instead, the 30-year-old has embraced his new purpose – being a leader and mentor on and off the ice for some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's top prospects with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.