After only a handful of games, Jon Cooper saw the signs of what was to come from Vladislav Namestnikov.
The Syracuse Crunch head coach watched the same progression in many of the rookies on the Calder Cup-winning Norfolk Admirals last year, whether they were Tampa Bay Lightning picks like Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik, or undrafted free agents like Tyler Johnson and Cory Conacher.
“Those guys that came in, felt out the league, learned it and after Christmas, took off,” Cooper said. “That’s where Vladdy would have been this year, but we’re just going to have to wait a few months for that to happen.”
This week 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.
This week’s winner made people remove their chapeaus and toss them onto a sheet of frozen water to delay a sporting match.
The Prospect of the Week for December 3 is … Cedric Paquette, center, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL – Canada)
Paquette started the year off on the wrong foot when he would frequently retaliate to opposing players’ efforts to get under his skin. The final straw for the coaching staff was when the 6-1, 200-pound center took a bad penalty away from the play in the closing minutes of a tie game, resulting in an Armada loss. The team suspended Paquette for one game and removed his alternate captain’s letter from his jersey.
When Syracuse Crunch coach Jon Cooper looked at his defense at the beginning of the season, he saw seven players and a question mark.
Dmitry Korobov, set to play his first season in North America, was up against more than smaller ice surfaces and more physical play. The Belarusian had to deal with a language barrier, and due to the ongoing lockout, NHL-level competition – not only from the opposition, but to crack the Crunch lineup.
“We didn’t know what Dmitry was, and when we’re fully healthy with the eight guys, I don’t know if you can sit here and say who’s one through eight,” Cooper said. “We have a bunch of ones in their own way.”
We're now almost two months deep into the second NHL lockout in less than a decade. As difficult as it is to remember, though, hockey goes on. It goes on in small junior rinks in Canada and on campuses throughout the U.S. It goes on in the sporting halls of Sweden and Russia. And, it goes on in Syracuse, New York, where players on the cusp of making the highest level of hockey in the world patiently await the mere chance to make their case to play in the NHL. For those players, and in spite the cynical greed of the NHL's business wing, Bolt Prospects presents its 2012-2013 Preliminary Rankings.
We delayed the release of the rankings a few weeks when optimism ran high that hockey would be back after Thanksgiving, believing that perhaps an NHL training camp was in the cards for some of our prospects. But with the breakdown of talks between the commissioner and the NHLPA, it looks like a Lightning camp is far from imminent. So, we press forward, in spite of the setback.