After starting the season with an undefeated run through their non-conference schedule and being ranked as high as #1 in the country, the Maine Black Bears (21-12-2), now ranked #14, struggled through the Hockey East schedule. The Black Bears finished fifth in the conference and failed to get home-ice advantage in the first round of the conference tournament, which opens this weekend with Maine against #15 Massachusetts.
Despite their rough road this season, defenseman Mike Lundin has continued his consistent play on the blue-line for the Black Bears, becoming a leader in the locker room. This has him optimistic about his future in hockey and with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Newly acquired defenseman Shane O'Brien was featured in his hometown paper, the Northumberland News (Port Hope, Ontario), today. O'Brien talks about the phone calls he received from Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermeyer upon being traded, as well as the fact the Lightning pursued him for a month before Jay Feaster was willing to give up a first rounder. He also reflects on his first NHL goal, off a pass from Teemu Selanne vs. Dominik Hasek of Detroit.
Bolt Prospects would like to announce the release of its 2006-2007 Midterm Rankings for prospects in the Lightning organization. There have been multiple changes since the Preliminary Rankings we released in October, most notably a new top prospect in the organization, AHL All-Star Karri Ramo, and the graduation of top ten prospect Nick Tarnasky who played his 41st NHL game of the season just this past weekend. Multiple prospects also managed to crack the rankings for the first time by virtue of their play so far this season.
Just a quick reminder on how we differentiate between "alumni", "prospect" and "overage prospect". Any player who plays 41 games or more at the NHL level in any single season or 82 or more total career NHL games will be considered graduated and will be moved to the "Bolt Prospects Alumni" section of the prospects page. With Tarnasky's full-time promotion to the NHL and prior graduations by Doug Janik and Eric Perrin, the alumni list has now grown to six players over the span of the past year and a half since we first put up the prospects page and profile content. Any player under the age of 24 on opening night of the 2006-2007 season who hasn't met the criteria for graduation is considered a "prospect" and is elligible for our rankings. Any player 24 or older who has not yet met the criteria for graduation is considered an "overage prospect" and is not elligible to make the list. In addition, with Johan Holmqvist on track for graduation this season, we've adopted new, but similar, rules for goaltenders whereby graduation will occur upon the 30th decision of any single NHL season or the 41st career NHL decision. For anyone wondering, Holmqvist has already earned 23 decisions this season (with a 14-9-0 record).
With all the legal disclaimers out of the way, here are the 2006-2007 Bolt Prospects Midterm Rankings which can also be found on our prospects page.