Tampa Bay Lightning – Offseason Prospect System Review

by Brayden Olafson on August 26, 2018

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Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.

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First off, if you missed our July 31-in-31 series which covered some of the early offseason topics including each team’s draft, check those articles out here.

 

If you are fortunate enough to have a subscription to the Athletic, you may have noticed some conflicting content coming from their hockey writers over the last month. In an August 2nd article, Dom Luszczyszyn summarized the confidence that NHL fans have in each team’s front offices including their own – Tampa’s front office was the victor of the aggregate rankings. Later in the month notable prospect writer, Corey Pronman kicked off his NHL Farm system rankings series – ruffling plenty of feathers on Day #2 when he proclaimed the Lightning as having the 30th best NHL farm system in the league.

 

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As Joel and Jokke discuss in the thread below Joel’s initial reference to the rankings, Tampa’s lack of high-end prospects, and failure to secure a top-round pick in the most recent draft may be a heavy factor in Corey’s rankings. Regardless of those facts, I strongly disagree with Corey on this, even while taking into consideration his criteria of a farm system. I believe the sheer multitude of NHL caliber prospects in Tampa’s system should sit them in the low 20’s at the latest.

 

Offseason Moves

 

In any case, it’s been another busy offseason for the Lightning, and it’s nearly in the books. An internal refortification has been the organization’s theme since being eliminated from the playoffs by the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals.

 

The Lightning have checked off most of their offseason to-do list despite being unsuccessful in the John Tavares sweepstakes. Since the offseason began, the team has inked a total of thirteen new deals comprised of mainly RFA extensions. Cameron Gaunce, an AHL defender was brought in as a UFA, plus Ryan McDonagh inked a seven-year extension prior to becoming a UFA next July. The details of the deals are as follows:

 

Adam Erne – SPC, 1 year @ $800,000

Nikita Kucherov – SPC, 8 years @ $9,500,000

Cedric Paquette – SPC, 1 year @ $1,000,000

Slater Koekkoek – SPC, 1 year @ $865,000

Cameron Gaunce – SPC, 1 year @ $650,000

Kevin Lynch – SPC, 1 year @ $650,000

Ryan McDonagh – SPC, 7 years @ $6,750,000

Ross Colton – ELC, 2 years @ $925,000

J.T. Miller – SPC, 5 years @ $5,250,000

Louis Domingue – SPC, 2 years @ $1,150,000

Edward Pasquale – SPC, 1 year @ $650,000

Carter Verhaghe – SPC, 1 year @ $650,000

Daniel Walcott – SPC, 1 year @ $650,000

 

Most of these deals seem to make perfect sense for the organization. At the end of next season when signing UFA’s Anton Stralman and Yanni Gourde may prove difficult, they’ll retain RFA control/leverage of both Koekkoek and Erne. Nobody can argue with that price tag on Kucherov, and you’d had to of believed that Yzerman would find some way to get that done. The team’s depth in the forward ranks is astounding, and their top four on the back will go toe-to-toe with the best. That being said, with the shadow of their inevitable cap crunch looming nearer, gaps for their top prospects will continue to form in the coming years.

 

Graduating Players

 

  • Yanni Gourde
  • Mikhail Sergachev
  • Anthony Cirelli
  • Slater Koekkoek

 

Gourde and Sergachev had outstanding rookie campaigns for the Lightning in a year where they both forced themselves into regular deployment. The team didn’t struggle with injuries as they did a year ago making it even more difficult for the team’s top prospects to make their way into a talented lineup.  Cirelli, however, did exactly that towards the end of the regular season, as well as into the playoffs. His high-energy style of play translated to production in the bottom-6 and should continue this fall. Koekkoek’s rough ride to a regular NHL job continues, this year with a little more stability in the lineup, and a future of waiver requirement that should see him on an NHL squad more regularly going forward.

 

Risers

 

  • Alex Volkov – Alex Volkov could quite simply be the most interesting man in the Lightning organization. The soon-to-be-sophomore pro went from a curious second-round draft choice out of the MHL to one of the team’s most exciting offensive prospects. With a nose for the net, he’s already come close to cracking the NHL squad over the last calendar year. He’ll begin making an impact as soon as an opportunity arises.
  • Boris Katchouk – A strong performance at the U20 tournament in Buffalo, NY put Boris Katchouk on the map among fellow Lightning prospects. His professional debut will come this fall in Syracuse, but the team will also be itching to see what he can do in a Lightning uniform.
  • Mathieu Joseph – The Syracuse Crunch’ leading scorer for the 2017-18 campaign was rookie Mathieu Joseph. The QMJHL alumnus is built for the professional level of hockey and proved that in his breakout with the Crunch. His ceiling isn’t outstanding but he’s on the short track to the NHL.

 

Fallers

 

  • Jonne Tammela – The unfortunate case of a prolonged injury at a key point in his development seems to have set Jonne Tammela back a few steps from his peers. The already fringe prospect returned from a knee injury to play with the Crunch midway through the year. With the influx of players from junior, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tammela spend a portion of the 2018-19 campaign in the ECHL.
  • Alexei Lipanov – After being a surprise faller in the 2017 Entry Draft, Alexei Lipanov followed up with a slightly disappointing debut in North America with the Sudbury Wolves. He’s still got plenty of time to refine his game and after already signing his ELC, the Lightning might take a unique approach with his development in the coming years.
  • Kristian Oldham – In the July 31-in-31 series, I argued why the drafting of Ty Taylor and Magnus Chrona could be beneficial for Connor Ingram’s motivation and development. The newly expanded pool of goaltending prospects is also going to make Kristian Oldham’s chances of ever making an impact within the Lightning organization highly unlikely. The sophomore backstop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha was an unpopular option on his own team, and when he was called upon, struggled to perform. His NCAA struggles pale in comparison to the competitiveness he’ll face within the Lightning organization.

 

Prospect Depth Chart

 

Left Wing

Alex Volkov, AHL

Boris Katchouk, OHL

Adam Erne, NHL

Dennis Yan, AHL

Gabriel Fortier, QMJHL

Cole Koepke, USHL

 

Center

Mitchell Stephens, AHL

Alex Barre-Boulet, QMJHL

Otto Somppi, QMJHL

Ross Colton, NCAA

Carter Verhaeghe, AHL

Ryan Lohin, NCAA

Alexei Lipanov, OHL

Cole Guttman, NCAA

Sammy Walker, USHS-MN

Kevin Lynch, AHL

 

Right Wing

Mathieu Joseph, AHL

Taylor Raddysh, OHL

Jonne Tammela, AHL

 

Defense

Cal Foote, WHL

Erik Cernak, AHL

Dominik Masin, AHL

Ben Thomas, AHL

Matthew Spencer, AHL

Oleg Sosunov, WHL

Daniel Walcott, AHL

Dmitry Semykin, MHL

Alex Green, NCAA

Nick Perbix, USHL

Radim Salda, QMJHL

Ryan Zuhlsdorf, NCAA

 

Goalie

Connor Ingram, AHL

Edward Pasquale, AHL

Magnus Chrona, J18 Allsvenskan

Ty Taylor, BCHL

Kristian Oldham, NCAA

 

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects

 

  1. Cal Foote, D
  2. Alexander Volkov, RW
  3. Boris Katchouk, C
  4. Mathieu Joseph, RW
  5. Taylor Raddysh, RW
  6. Mitchell Stephens. C
  7. Alex Barre-Boulet, C
  8. Adam Erne, LW
  9. Dennis Yan, LW
  10. Otto Somppi, C

 

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Brayden Olafson