Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Tampa Bay Lightning Prime 10 Prospects: 2024 Offseason – The Hockey Writers – Lightning Prospects

As a consequence of their persistently sturdy efficiency, the Tampa Bay Lightning have had fewer excessive draft picks over the previous decade. Consequently, their prospect pool has confronted challenges. Regardless of this, a current wave of high quality prospects acquired via the draft and trades holds promise for the subsequent technology of Tampa Bay hockey.

Honorable mentions: Gage Goncalves, Daniil Pylenkov, Connor Kurth, Milo Roelens, Jan Golicic, Joona Saarelainen

10. Hugo Alnefelt, 23 years outdated (G)

At 23 years outdated, Hugo Alnefelt has been in Tampa Bay’s system for fairly some time. He was a 2019 third-round decide and has spent the previous three seasons within the AHL, main the Syracuse Crunch to the playoffs all three seasons. Nonetheless, he’s returning to Sweden subsequent season so his future is in query. If he returns to North America following a profitable 2024-25 marketing campaign within the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), he might earn a task as Andrei Vasilevskiy’s backup. If not, his NHL aspirations could also be uncertain.

9. Jack Finley, 21 years outdated (C)

Jack Finley is a 6-foot-6 heart who has put up spectacular numbers within the American Hockey League (AHL). He can be 22 years outdated firstly of this season, so it might be a make-or-break 12 months, however he’s near NHL-ready. His ceiling just isn’t as excessive as most prospects on this record, however his peak, skating, and defensive play will assist him in his quest to earn a task in Tampa Bay’s backside six.

8. Hagen Burrows, 18 years outdated (F)

Hagen Burrows was a lesser-known prospect heading into the 2024 Draft as a consequence of enjoying simply 25 video games for the Sioux Metropolis Musketeers of america Hockey League. Nonetheless, he has a formidable skillset that might assist him land an NHL gig down the road.

Burrows is a hard-working ahead who supplies a 200-foot recreation. He’s extremely aggressive and makes use of his spectacular imaginative and prescient and fingers to drive offense. In his 25 video games, he had 9 objectives and 22 factors, numbers that might have improved had he remained with the crew the whole season. He’s dedicated to the College of Denver, the 2024 Nationwide Collegiate Athletics Affiliation (NCAA) Nationwide Champions, and one of many United States’ prime faculty applications. It is going to take time however underneath the proper teaching, he might develop right into a middle-six ahead for the Lightning.

7. Maxim Groshev, 22 years outdated (W)

Maxim Groshev is a left-handed winger who has accomplished only one season in North America. He put up 10 objectives and 30 factors in 67 AHL video games final season for Syracuse, showcasing a formidable two-way capability. His upside is fairly restricted as a consequence of his weak shot, however he has the potential to develop right into a bottom-six winger with 10+ objectives and a 30+ level upside.

6. Ethan Gauthier, 19 years outdated (RW)

Ethan Gauthier, chosen thirty seventh total by the Lightning within the 2023 Draft, had a difficult season. His offensive numbers stagnated, with solely six extra objectives and two extra factors in two fewer video games than the season prior. This was disappointing, as he was anticipated to have a breakout 12 months.

Nonetheless, Gauthier is simply 19 years outdated and has ample time to develop. His sturdy work ethic means that the 2024-25 season might carry the advance he seeks. His two-way play can be an asset as he works in the direction of reaching the NHL. It might take one other three seasons, however the Phoenix, Arizona native is hopeful to safe a task within the NHL’s backside six.

5. Eamon Powell, 22 years outdated (RD)

Eamon Powell was a 2020 fourth-round decide by the Lightning and has spent the previous 4 seasons at Boston School. Captain his senior 12 months, he tied a career-high in objectives (5) and set profession highs in assists (33) and factors (38). Over the 40-game season, he led Boston School as among the best applications within the nation via his management and selfless playstyle. He’ll want a season or two within the AHL, however he might become a robust bottom-four defenseman down the road.

4. Dylan Duke, 21 years outdated (C)

Dylan Duke was a 2021 fourth-round decide who has spent the previous three seasons on the College of Michigan. Every season has seen enchancment on the scoresheet and his two-way recreation has developed. He scored 26 objectives and 49 factors in 41 video games final season earlier than signing with the Lightning to complete the season with the Crunch.

Beginning this season in Syracuse, Duke must show that final season’s offensive success was not a fluke. If he can keep his efficiency within the AHL, he would possibly attain the NHL by the top of the season, although a debut within the 2025-26 season is extra possible. A major hurdle for his NHL ambitions is Tampa Bay’s deep expertise pool within the prime six. Consequently, Duke is anticipated to remain on the Crunch’s first line till a top-six place turns into out there on Tampa Bay’s roster, slightly than being known as up for a 3rd or fourth-line position.

3. Niko Huuhtanen, 21 years outdated (RW)

One of many most underrated prospects within the NHL is Niko Huuhtanen. He was the final choice within the 2021 Draft, going to the Lightning, and he has made probably the most of this chance. Over the previous two seasons, he has scored 36 objectives and 76 factors in 100 video games for Jurkurit of the Finnish Elite League (Liiga).

Liiga is arguably the second-best skilled Males’s hockey league on the earth, trailing simply the NHL, and Huuhtanen completed final season seventeenth in objectives, twenty fifth in assists, and 18th in factors whereas lacking eight video games. He’s bringing his spectacular fingers, imaginative and prescient, and hockey IQ to Syracuse subsequent season, however he shouldn’t spend a lot time with the crew. Contemplating he has exceeded expectations all through his improvement, his upside is kind of excessive, however a top-six position with 20+ objectives, and a 60+ level upside is a practical objective. These are lofty expectations for somebody so younger, however he has the expertise to do it.

1B. Conor Geekie, 20 years outdated (C)

Conor Geekie had a dominant 2023-24 season within the Western Hockey League (WHL), scoring 43 objectives and 99 factors throughout 55 video games break up between the Swift Present Broncos and Wenatchee Wild. The 2020 eleventh total decide stands at 6-foot-4 and is a unicorn on the ice. Not solely is he exhausting to overlook as a consequence of his dimension, however he’s at all times on the heart of the participant, whether or not it’s via controlling possession within the offensive zone or his defensive positioning.

The WHL is a league that doesn’t see a lot protection, particularly from forwards, however Geekie is an exception. He has a really excessive IQ in addition to a protracted attain, permitting him to maintain the opposition close to the perimeter. Projecting his future, he’ll want a while to develop with the Crunch, however he needs to be prepared for the NHL no later than the beginning of the 2025-26 season. If his improvement continues to go so effectively, he’ll quickly be part of Tampa Bay’s middle-six with the upside of turning into a 20-25 objective, 60-75 level, two-way heart.

1A. Isaac Howard, 20 years outdated (LW)

Taken 20 picks after Geekie within the 2022 Draft, Isaac Howard has cemented himself as one in every of hockey’s prime prospects. Not solely does he carry a stage of charisma and aura not like some other prospect in hockey, however his on-ice manufacturing is spectacular. After a disappointing 2022-23 season with the College of Minnesota-Duluth, he transferred to Michigan State College final season and dominated. He scored eight objectives and 28 assists in 36 video games, main the crew in assists and factors (36).

Isaac Howard, Michigan State College (MSU Athletic Communications)

Howard is a speedy skater with elusive edges that permit him to fly down the ice to create frequent high-danger scoring possibilities. This was particularly clear on nationwide tv because the 2024 World Junior Championship the place he scored seven objectives in seven video games for america en path to profitable the match. The rationale for him being ranked barely above Geekie is because of his upside.

The sky really is the restrict for Howard. He has improved at every stage of his improvement and possesses the skillset and work ethic to proceed growing. Whereas he has not scored objectives on the fee many would anticipate, he has the upside to be a dependable 20-goal scorer within the NHL. Additionally, in the proper system, he might turn out to be a 60+ assists winger all through his prime, though a 45-50 help tempo is a extra dependable wager.

Regardless of making simply two top-50 draft picks since 2019, the Lightning have discovered a strategy to put collectively an honest prospect pool. They’ve hit on their early picks, made trades to get youthful, and located gems within the later rounds, and the subsequent season or two can be very telling on the way forward for this crew.

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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