Features

Articles that are feature stories.

Blujus Settling In On Syracuse Blueline


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.

Crunch Moving Forward, Expect to Win in 2014-15


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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."

The BoltProspects Podcast, Volume 2

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

Click here to listen

Volume 1
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Introducing the BoltProspects Podcast

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.

Click here to listen.

Who's Trending? (Part 4)

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.

ICMYI: Part 1 (Prospects ranked 1-10), Part 2 (Prospects ranked 11-25), Part 3 (Unranked prospects)

Part 4: Recent Graduates

Prospect Tournament Preview

Brace yourselves – Lightning hockey is now just days away.

The Baby Bolts will participate in the Nashville prospects tournament this weekend at the brand-spanking new Ford Ice Center. They'll be joined by the Preds, Bruins, and that team from near Miami. Lightning prospects are currently gathering in Tampa for two practices in advance of their tournament opener on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (EST).

The Lightning announced earlier today there would be no online streaming of games. There hasn’t been any announcement concerning radio, though in the past some teams have had audio streaming available on the Web. At the least, Bolt Prospects will live-tweet the Lightning’s games from the Ford Ice Center.

Tampa Bay announced their tournament roster on August 28 and should be the favorite in the event based on the star-power of Jonathan Drouin and Andrei Vasilevskiy alone. Add in defensive weapons Slater Koekkoek and Anthony DeAngelo and the Bolts are sure to test the Ford Ice Center’s scoreboard capabilities.

Who's Trending? (Part 3)

We continue with Part 3 of our Who’s Trending? series, examining prospect values as camp approaches. As we’ve mentioned many times, the great part about hockey – and especially developmental hockey – is this is subject to change. We call this The Afanasenkov Rule.

The series includes current prospects and players that started last season as prospects who remain in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

ICMYI: Part 1 (Prospects ranked 1-10), Part 2 (Prospects ranked 11-25)

Who's Trending? (Part 1)

The NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency Frenzy are tiny blips in the rearview mirror and the next event – the Nashville prospects tournament – is still a few weeks away (and we’ll be there). August is the low-point of the hockey year and the Bolt Prospects staff has been using this lull to re-charge their batteries in preparation for another long season of daily reports and constant updates and commentary.

Editor’s Note: Batteries is a figurative term. We’re not robots, though we feel like it sometimes.

The prospects themselves are hard at work preparing for the season and/or dumping ice buckets over their respective heads for a good cause. Some, like Jonathan Drouin, have aspirations to make the big club. Others, like Daniel Milan, are hoping to stay in the organization beyond this season.

It’s time to take a look at who’s trending in what direction as camp approaches. The great part about hockey, and especially developmental hockey – is this is subject to change. There are few things more exciting than watching someone turn their career around. This is the Afanasenkov Rule. You never know.

The following 4-part series includes current prospects and players that started last season as prospects who remain in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

2013-2014 Supplemental Prospect Rankings

Written by Pete Choquette (@jollymeangiant)

Introduction

The dog days of summer find us in a rare lull on the calendar here on Bolt Prospects between the ending of Lightning rookie camp and the start of annual prospect tournaments and training camp. What better opportunity to take the time to examine how the Lightning's 2014 draft class figures into our rankings? With that in mind, here's our 2013-2014 Supplemental Prospect Rankings, the final round of rankings before the 2014-2015 season.

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft offered a tremendous opportunity for the Tampa Bay Lightning to replenish a prospect system that has been depleted by the mass graduation of well over a half a dozen prospects that moved up from the AHL to NHL level last season. Some of the finest prospects in the land still held down the top spots in the rankings, but there was a considerable vacuum behind the top half dozen or so spots. With three picks in the coveted top-60 of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the team held three golden tickets to begin to restock and reload. The Lightning used those picks to select three defensemen, addressing the most obvious deficiency in their prospect pipeline. Will the needs-based approach to drafting pay off, or will the shift in philosophy this year backfire on the club? Time will tell.

Before we start with the rankings, it's time to once again review the rules of the rankings. Players under 24 years of age on opening night of the 2013-2014 NHL season were eligible for the rankings. Older prospects are considered overage prospects for the purposes of the website (sorry, J.P. Cote). Any skater prospect with 41 or more NHL games in a single season or 82 or more career NHL games is considered graduated on the website. Any goaltender with 30 or more decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions is also considered graduated. Lastly, NCAA prospects are exempt from the 24 year-old cutoff for the duration of their college careers.

Got it? There will be a quiz later. With that out of the way, let's begin...

Lightning Roster Speculation 3.0

For what it's worth, here’s how I see the roster playing out come October. Lines are speculative, of course, as they’ll change five minutes into the first game. This is more of a who-ends-up-where list:

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