August 32-in-32: Tampa Bay Lightning

Wade Messier

2023-08-28

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Welcome to the August 2023 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers, and top-20 prospects.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to have a never-ending competitive window, with back-to-back Cups to prove their status among the top teams in the NHL. That isn’t to say that Tampa Bay can just coast to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance every year, of course, but their approach to every offseason is the same: support their core players with the best depth pieces they can get their hands on.

Tampa Bay did quite a nice job this offseason, addressing some major concerns without spending too much or making a massive splash.

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Graduating Players

Graduates To The NHL

Nick Perbix – Syracuse (AHL) to Tampa Bay (NHL)

Michael Eyssimont – Manitoba (AHL) to Tampa Bay (NHL)

Graduates From Junior/NCAA To Pro

Max Crozier – Providence (NCAA) – Syracuse (AHL)

Graduates From Europe To Pro

Emil Martinsen Lilleberg – IK Oskarshamn (SHL) to Syracuse Crunch (AHL)

Graduates From Junior To NCAA

Warren Clark –  Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) to St. Cloud State (NCAA)

Klavs Veinbergs – Lincoln Stars (USHL) to Colorado College (NCAA)

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Risers

Max Crozier (Syracuse Crunch)

Crozier earned himself an entry level deal following the conclusion of his senior season in the NCAA. The shifty two-way defender played a significant role on Providence College’s blueline over the past four seasons and will look to continue his success in the AHL. Crozier joined the Syracuse Crunch for a nine-game stint following the conclusion of the 2022-23 NCAA season and seemed quite comfortable against the professional competition he faced. At 23 years of age, he’s on the older side for a prospect, but Tampa Bay seems to love longer projects.

Isaac Howard (Michigan State University)

Howard is just one year removed from being drafted, yet so much growth has already taken place. While he’s still regarded as a raw and toolsy project for Tampa Bay, his development is certainly on an upswing. After just one season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Howard put himself into the transfer portal, and will continue his NCAA career with the Michigan State University Spartans. While his production with UMD was so-so, he seems primed for an offensive outburst this year with MSU.

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Fallers

Nick Capone (University of Connecticut)

Capone was never a highly touted prospect in Tampa Bay’s system, but his value has steadily decreased over the last three seasons. Once a sixth-round pick who held some hope of carving out an NHL career, Capone now appears to be an outsider looking in on the rest of Tampa Bay’s RW depth. While the team will hold his rights for the next season, it’s highly unlikely that they’ve seen anything from Capone that would justify giving him a contract.

Jaydon Dureau (Syracuse Crunch/Orlando Solar Bears)

While Dureau’s WHL career was impressive enough to land him an ELC with Tampa Bay, his first professional season set him back a bit in terms of progress. The Lightning kept Dureau in the ECHL for most of the season, where he enjoyed a moderately productive season. That being said, some major flaws were visible in Dureau’s game, which were passable in junior, but will no longer do him any good. While Dureau has two more years on his current deal to improve and grow as a prospect, he will need to make some major changes to his play style if he hopes to succeed at even the AHL level.

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Organizational Depth Chart

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Isaac HowardDylan DukeEthan Gauthier
Lucas EdmondsLogan BrownAlex Barre-Boulet
Mikhail ShalaginGabriel FortierNiko Huuhtanen
Michael EyssimontJack FinleyMaxim Groshev
Cole KoepkeGage GoncalvesNick Capone
McKade Webster 
Jaydon Dureau 
Left-Handed DefensemanRight-Handed Defenseman
Haydn FleuryJack Thompson
Darren RaddyshMax Crozier
Sean DayNick Perbix
Eamon Powell
Philippe Myers
Roman Schmidt
Goaltenders
Hugo Alnefelt
Nick Malik
Ty Taylor

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Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

  1. Ethan Gauthier
  2. Issac Howard
  3. Hugo Alnefelt
  4. Michael Eyssimont
  5. Alex Barre-Boulet
  6. Jack Thompson
  7. Max Crozier
  8. Dylan Duke
  9. Mikhail Shalagin
  10. Maxim Groshev
  11. Eamon Powell
  12. Gabriel Fortier
  13. Cole Koepke
  14. Darren Raddysh
  15. Roman Schmidt
  16. Nick Malik
  17. Philippe Myers
  18. Jack Finley
  19. McKade Webster
  20. Sean Day

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Brandon Hagel Extension

Hagel was traded to Tampa Bay at the 2022 trade deadline in exchange for quite a haul, which included two first-round draft picks, as well as Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh. While it was considered an overpay by some at the time of the deal, Tampa Bay knew they were getting a proven 23-year-old forward who still had some runway left to grow. That season, Colton ended with 44 points in 77 games. This year, his stat line improved to 64 points in 81 games, and at just 25 years of age, it looks like it could continue to grow.

On August 22nd, the Lightning announced that they’d signed Hagel to an eight-year contract extension worth $6.5 million annually. In total, the deal will earn Hagel $52 million and will expire when he’s 33 years old.

While a sizeable chunk of Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup-winning core is getting up there in age, Hagel represents a younger portion of the team that will look to keep the Lightning competitive and winning for years to come.

Ross Colton Trade

The Tampa Bay Lightning pulled an unexpected move ahead of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft when they traded forward Ross Colton to Colorado in exchange for the 37th overall pick. Seeing as Tampa Bay had no picks in the 1st or 2nd rounds, this move allowed them to get back into the range where they could find an impact player. With this pick, the Lightning selected Ethan Gauthier from the QMJHL, which is great value both draft position-wise and in the broader scope of this trade.

As for Colton, the loss is manageable. At 26 years of age and just two full NHL seasons under his belt, Colton has been a slow burn for Tampa Bay. His career high of 39 points is good, but not great, and his role will likely be filled without much effort thanks to Tampa Bay’s unique development system, which churns out players with Colton’s development path.

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It should be another successful season for the Lightning, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if they found themselves in another Stanley Cup Final. Look for some of these lesser-known names to emerge as legit prospects, and other more established names to solidify their NHL potential.

Thanks for reading to the end of today’s 32-in-32! You can find more of my work over on Twitter @wade_messier or on my Substack. Make sure to follow along for the rest of the 32-in-32 series, and check out all of our amazing writers/scouts!

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