Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Tampa Bay Lightning Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Tampa Bay Lightning Prospects
It was a historic regular season for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19. They put up 62 wins and 128 points. Winger Nikita Kucherov took home the Hart, Art Ross, and Ted Lindsay Trophies. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was the Vezina winner. Meanwhile, Victor Hedman was a first-team all-star and Jon Cooper finished second in voting for the Jack Adams Award. Many saw the Lightning as a Stanley Cup Favorite. However, after all those regular-season wins, they lost four straight in the playoffs, falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shocking sweep.
The off-season brought some changes. The defensive depth underwent a dramatic overhaul with Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman‘s contracts running out. The team signed Kevin Shattenkirk, Luke Schenn, and Luke Witkowski as free agents. They also traded J.T. Miller to the Vancouver Canucks. They cleared further cap space by trading injured forward Ryan Callahan to the Ottawa Senators for goalie Mike Condon. Winger Adam Erne also went to the Detroit Red Wings. The team also added free agent goalies Curtis McElhinney, Scott Wedgewood, and Spencer Martin as well as forwards Pat Maroon and Gemel Smith.
2019 NHL Draft Picks (Grade B-): Nolan Foote, Hugo Alnefelt, Maxim Cajkovic, Maxwell Crozier, Quinn Schmiemann, Mikhail Shalagin, Mckade Webster
Graduations: Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, Erik Cernak,
Top Prospect: Cal Foote
Defence — shoots Right
Born December 13th, 1998 — Englewood, Colorado
Height 6’4″ — Weight 220 lbs [193 cm/100 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1st round, #14 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Cal Foote made an excellent transition from junior to pro hockey. He put up 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 76 AHL games for the Syracuse Crunch. Foote was one of the top rookie defencemen in the AHL, a fact that was even more impressive when you realize he was just 19 when the season began.
Foote is a decent skater given his size. He skates well in both directions, with average speed and acceleration. This improved slightly this year but can still get even better. He also has solid pivots and edgework which allow him to cover the ice, as well as to transition from offence to defence, and vice-versa. His lateral agility allows him to walk the line, and to open up passing and shooting lanes. Foote is strong on his skates, with good balance and a strong lower body. This helps him in battling for pucks in the corners and in clearing the front of the net. He has added muscle to his frame since being drafted and could still add even more.
There is no real standout skill here, but there is no huge weakness either. Foote will need to improve his skating going forward if he wants to be a top-pairing defenceman. Being average or decent in each area might get him to the NHL but he will need a bit more to excel.
Foote has a good slap shot which he keeps low and puts on the net. This allows his teammates to get deflections and rebounds. He continues to get stronger and improve the power on that shot. This can continue to improve with even more muscle on his frame. He is very good at one-timers, getting his shot off and on the net. Foote also uses his wrist shot effectively. He has a good release and gets his shot on net when under pressure.
Foote also has good poise with the puck on his stick and the vision to quarterback things from the point on the power play. He reads the play well at both ends of the ice and has extremely good positioning. Foote understands when to sneak down from the point to take a pass, or to pinch in at the line to keep the puck in. His strong skating ability allows him to take chances and get back quickly.
He also makes an excellent first pass out of the zone, starting the transition game. Foote has the stickhandling skill and quick feet to skate the puck out of danger and create plays starting the rush.
Foote isn’t quite as physical as his famous father but is still willing to play the body. It’s more about battling in the corners and clearing the front of the net than throwing big open-ice hits though. He has good positioning and is willing to block shots. His large size helps him to cut down passing lanes. Foote maintains good gap control and is tough to beat one-on-one off the rush.
Foote has been known to stand up for teammates and to drop the gloves from time to time as well.
Foote does not turn 21 until December. He still has some developing to do and it will be tough for him to crack the Lightning’s strong defence group this year. Expect Foote to start the year in the AHL and work on his footwork. If things go extremely well, he might be called up as an injury replacement or if someone struggles in Tampa. If not, he could challenge for a spot in 2020.
#2 Prospect: Alex Barre-Boulet
Right Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born May 21st, 1997 — Montmagny, Quebec
Height 5’10” — Weight 170 lbs [175 cm/76 kg]
Signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an Undrafted Free Agent, March 2018.
Barre-Boulet was extremely impressive in his first pro season. The 21-year-old scored 34 goals and 34 assists for 68 points in 74 games. He also added three points in four playoff games. He led the entire AHL in goals. It was also the most points for an AHL rookie and won him the Rookie of the Year award.
Barre-Boulet is an undersized forward but makes up for it with his strong skating ability. He has a very good first step and excellent acceleration. Once he gets moving, he also has very good speed. This means that he can win races to loose pucks. He is also extremely dangerous off the rush. Once Barre-Boulet gets a step on a defenceman, he can accelerate into open space. He also has very good agility and edgework. Barre-Boulet is elusive, both with and without the puck. He could get stronger though as Barre-Boulet can be overpowered in battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Barre-Boulet is a very smart and creative player. He combines his strong skating ability with excellent stickhandling. He can control the puck and extend possession, waiting for teammates to get open. His quick changes in direction can also create space for him to get a shot off or to make a pass to a teammate. He is especially effective on the power play where he can quarterback the play from the half boards. He has very good vision and can pass the puck through tight passing lanes to set up a scoring chance.
Barre-Boulet is also a goal scorer. He has an excellent array of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot both feature deceptively quick releases. He has quick hands and is able to change the angle on that release, further fooling goalies. His shots are also very accurate and have good power. Barre-Boulet can even score with his backhand. He is good in tight to the net, deking goalies with his quick hands and using his hand-eye coordination to bang in rebounds and get deflections. Barre-Boulet is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice and battles for his spot but needs to be stronger.
Barre-Boulet’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He is willing to get back defensively but his lack of size and strength and can be an issue in trying to contain bigger forwards. While he has very good offensive hockey IQ and good smarts, he needs some work on his positioning and reading the play in his own end, though this seemed to be better later in the season. Overall, this is an area he can improve with continued exposure to strong coaching.
The Lightning could have an absolute steal in Barre-Boulet but are likely to be patient with his development. With the depth and quality of their forwards, there is no need to rush the youngster. He will likely start the year in Syracuse but could see NHL time as a callup if injuries hit in Tampa. Though he played centre in junior, he mostly played right wing in Tampa.
#3 Prospect: Nolan Foote
The Lightning drafted Foote with the 27th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Foote. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#4 Prospect: Alexander Volkov
Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born August 2nd, 1997 — Moscow, Russia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 191 lbs [185 cm / 87 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #48 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Volkov’s second season with the Syracuse Crunch was very similar to his first. He put up 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points in 74 games. He also added one goal in four playoff games.
Volkov is a very good skater. He has very good speed and pairs it with excellent acceleration. Volkov is dangerous off the rush and gets in quickly on the forecheck. He also has very good edgework and agility. He is elusive both with and without the puck and can create space through quick cuts and changes of direction. Volkov has a stronger lower body. He fights through checks to get to the front of the net and wins his battles on the boards. He is strong on the puck and tough to knock off of it.
Volkov is a pure sniper. He has a vast arsenal of shots that he can use to score goals. His wrist shot and snapshot both have good power and a quick release. He also has an excellent one-timer. He can also score with his backhand. Volkov is a smart hockey player who finds open ice and is always ready to receive a pass from a teammate and fire a shot on net. He also has the soft hands to finish in tight to the goal with quick moves and the hands to get rebounds and deflections.
While he is better known for his goal-scoring and is a shoot-first player, Volkov has some playmaking ability. He sees the ice well and can make passes through open areas. He also uses his body to protect the puck and extend plays, waiting for a teammate to get open. Volkov forechecks hard, causing opposing defenders to rush their play and creating turnovers. He is good at turning these into offensive chances.
Volkov needs to be a bit more consistent though. There are games where he is a dominant offensive force and others where he just does not generate a lot. This is going to be the main cause of any frustration with him as a player but if he can solve it, he can take the next step as a player.
Volkov has a decent defensive game for his age. He backchecks hard and is willing to support the defence down low. Volkov is willing to bring his ability to fight for loose pucks and battle on the boards in all three zones. He occasionally can get caught out of position and needs a bit more coaching in this area as he spent last season adjusting to North American ice and more minutes against professionals than he was given in the KHL.
Volkov has been impressive in the Lightning training camp in each of the last two years. Like Barre-Boulet, he has been strong in the AHL, and in most organizations, this would make him a strong contender to make the lineup this year. Given the Lightning depth situation, he might have to go back to Syracuse with the occasional call-up when there are injuries. If in Syracuse, the Lightning hope to see Volkov emerge as one of the team’s go-to offensive threats every night, building a more consistent game.
#5 Prospect: Taylor Raddysh
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born February 18th, 1998 — Caledon, Ontario
Height 6’3″ — Weight 216 lbs [191 cm / 98 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #58 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft
Raddysh had a strong first pro season with the Syracuse Crunch. He scored 18 goals and 28 assists for 46 points in 70 games. However, he was held scoreless in four playoff games.
Raddysh has very good size and good speed. He has good acceleration which allows him to gets in quickly on the forecheck. Once there, he finishes his checks, punishing opposing defenders, causing turnovers and creating offence. He could be even better if he could improve his first step. This would allow Raddysh to win more races for loose pucks than he already does. It is not bad, but it could be just a bit better.
Raddysh has good agility and can weave through traffic, both with and without the puck. He can cut to the outside on a defender and once he gets a step is hard to stop. Raddysh has the power in his stride to fight through checks and get to the net, as well as the balance to be strong on the puck when being hit by opposing defenders.
Raddysh is a goal-scoring threat. He has a very good wrist shot and a quick release. His snapshot is also powerful. With his strong hockey IQ, Raddysh is able to find openings in the defence to set up for a one-timer. He can score in a variety of ways. With his size, Raddysh is able to play a power game. He goes hard to the net and pounces on rebounds. He creates havoc, screening goaltenders and distracting them to create openings for teammates. Raddysh can also score with deflections and tip-ins.
Raddysh protects the puck well down low on the cycle, using his body and his stick-handling to keep the puck away from the opponent. He has excellent vision and has really improved his playmaking, making tape-to-tape passes to teammates and threading the needle through tight spaces to create scoring opportunities. His puck control ability allows his teammates time to get open for those opportunities. Raddysh uses his size, strength and balance to win loose pucks on the boards, and create increased offensive opportunities for his linemates.
Raddysh’s defensive game has really improved. He comes back on the backcheck and is willing to play a gritty game in his own end. His defensive positioning has really improved over his draft year. He is more disciplined and does not get himself out of position looking for big hits, or by puck chasing as he used to. He also keeps his feet moving when defending in his own end, which was an issue previously. His defensive game is not perfect, but he has improved. It is not a liability.
Raddysh had a solid start with Syracuse but the Lightning will be patient with the power forward prospect. It will be important that he is able to continue to translate his offence to the pro game and prove he is ready for the NHL. Continuing to improve his defence could be a key factor. Raddysh likely needs one to two years in the AHL before being ready for a full-time NHL job but may see some call-ups to replace injured players before that.
#6 Prospect: Carter Verhaeghe
Centre — shoots Left
Born August 14th, 1995 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 185 lbs [185 cm/82 kg]
Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 3rd round, #82 overall at the 2013 NHL Draft
Traded to the New York Islanders in August 2015.
Traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in July 2017.
Verhaeghe had a huge season for the Syracuse Crunch. With 34 goals, he was tied with Barre-Boulet for the league lead. His 82 points also led the league. It was no surprise that he was a First-Team AHL All-Star. With six points in four games, he continued his offensive production into the AHL playoffs.
Verhaeghe is a good skater. He has good top-end speed but really excels with his first-step quickness and acceleration. His ability to change speeds helps him to get past defenders and create space. He also has good agility and edgework that allow him to maneuver through the offensive zone. Verhaeghe has bulked up over the years and filled out his frame. This has helped him as he is a lot stronger on the puck in the corners and in front of the net.
Verhaeghe plays a game that is a mix of skill and hard work. He has an excellent wrist shot, with pinpoint accuracy. He is also able to get it off with a quick release. His slap shot and one-timer are also strong weapons. Verhaeghe is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice and makes plays there. His soft hands help him to make plays in tight to the net. He is also good at digging pucks out of corners and creating turnovers.
Verhaeghe is a good stick-handler. He protects the puck well, extending plays and giving his teammates time to get open. When they do he can make a pass through a tight passing lane to set them up. His vision is good and he makes smart plays with the puck. He is especially effective on the power play, forming a good combo with Barre-Boulet.
Verhaeghe has improved his defensive game over the years and has been used in all situations by the Crunch. He kills penalties and plays against the other team’s top line. His hard work extends to the defensive zone where he backchecks effectively. Verhaeghe reads the play well. He can intercept passes and create turnovers. Once the puck is turned over, he can move it up the ice quickly to transition to the offensive game.
The Lightning have an interesting decision to make on Verhaeghe after training camp. His offensive production suggests he is ready for the NHL. If they want to send him back to the AHL, he must first clear waivers. That may not happen, with a number of teams around the league looking for cheap scoring depth. Will they keep him on the big club or risk losing Verhaeghe on waivers.
#7 Prospect: Dominik Masin
Defence — shoots Left
Born February 1st, 1996 — Mestec Kralove, Czech Republic
Height 6’2″ — Weight 198 lbs [188 cm / 90 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #35 overall at the 2014 NHL Draft
Masin put up two goals and 12 points in 69 games for Syracuse this past season also adding 72 penalty minutes. He also played four playoff games for the team.
Masin’s skating has improved over his time in the AHL. He still needs a bit of work on his edgework but has improved his speed and mobility. While he’ll never be confused for a speedster, Masin has gotten to a level where his speed is average. His excellent positioning and hockey IQ are able to mask any deficiencies and help him handle speedy players. He is also strong on his skates and able to win battles in the corners and in front of the net.
Offensively, Masin’s game has come a long way. He has gotten considerably better offensively since being drafted. Masin was once only seen as a defensive defender but he now makes strong, heads-up passes, both out of his own end to start the rush and in the offensive zone as well. He has become more poised and confident with the puck on his stick as well. Masin has really improved his slap shot. It is not elite but has become very good. He also uses a good wrist and snapshot when pressured at the point. Masin learned how to get his shot through traffic, as well as the importance of keeping it low and on the net for rebounds and deflections. He is still unlikely to be a big producer in the NHL but he can make a few plays and provide some secondary scoring.
Masin has good size and plays an excellent defensive game. He played big minutes for Syracuse and against the other teams’ top offensive lines. He has great hockey IQ, and the ability to read the play. His positioning is excellent, and he breaks up plays with a good active stick. Masin maintains excellent gap control and is very hard to beat one-on-one. He is physical in the corners and in front of the net and can use his size to throw big hits. He needs to stay disciplined and out of the penalty box.
Like Foote, the depth of the Lightning defence corps makes Masin’s attempts to crack the lineup difficult. The advantage though is that Masin is a left-handed shot, meaning that there is less competition for him if a spot does open up on the Tampa blue line. Another prospect who needs to clear waivers before he can play in the NHL, this complicates Julien Brisebois‘ decision.
#8 Prospect: Mitchell Stephens
Centre — shoots Right
Born February 5th, 1997 — Peterborough, Ontario
Height 6’0” — Weight 194 lbs [183 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #33 overall at the 2015 NHL Draft
An upper-body injury suffered early in the season limited Stephens game time. When he finally came back it seemed that Stephens had taken a step forward in his game. He put up 11 goals and 24 points in 32 games with the Syracuse Crunch. Stephens also added one assist in four playoff games.
Stephens is another speedster. He wins a ton of races whether they be short ones to loose pucks, or being first on the puck on a longer forecheck due to a great first step, tremendous acceleration and great top-end speed. He can really fly out there and this also makes him deadly off the rush. If defenders are not careful he will beat them to the outside and cut to the net. As defenceman have to back off him to protect against that speed, he can use them as a screen and get off a strong shot.
Stephens also has very good agility and edgework which allows him to get by defenders both with and without the puck. He has a powerful lower body which gives him good balance and makes him hard to knock off the puck. He can fight through checks, and win board battles in the offensive and defensive zone.
Stephens has an excellent wrist shot and release, which he uses to great effect off the rush. He also has a very good one-timer and works to get open to get it off. Stephens stickhandling is good and he can control the play both in the cycle game and makes plays on the rush. Stephens is not afraid to crash the net, whether it be in trying to score on his own play in close, or looking for a screen, rebound or tip-in. He goes to the net extremely hard and has been known to take a goalie interference penalty or two.
If he wants to be a centre at the next level, Stephens will need to improve on his playmaking skills. He can have a tendency to hold onto the puck a bit too long, missing opportunities to put the puck through a passing lane to a teammate. He can also develop a sort of tunnel vision, where he gets so focused on creating his own scoring opportunity and he takes a bad shot rather than dishing the puck. If he can fix these issues, he could be a dynamic offensive force. If not, he may have to become a winger to find a place in the NHL.
Stephens has developed a strong two-way game. He works to support the defence down low and contain the cycle game. He is always digging along the boards and playing a gritty game in all three zones. Stephens uses his speed and quickness to cause turnovers and quickly transition to the offensive game.
With so many good young forwards on the team and in the system, Stephens will have to fight for a spot in the NHL. At this point, he is likely headed to Syracuse where the Lightning hope to see continued development in his playmaking ability.
#9 Prospect: Boris Katchouk
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born June 18th, 1998 — Kitchener, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 198 lbs [188 cm / 90 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #44 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft
After an outstanding junior career, Katchouk struggled with consistency in his first season in the AHL. He put up 11 goals and 23 points in 75 games. He also played in four playoff games but was unable to put up any points.
Katchouk has good speed, allowing him to play a strong forechecking game. He shows very good acceleration, and the ability to quickly change speeds, allowing him to get by defenders with his change of pace. His agility and edgework are also strong, allowing Katchouk to make quick cuts and get past defenders. Katchouk also has good balance and power in his stride at the junior level but could stand to improve that area of his game before he heads to the next level.
Katchouk is quick to get in on the forecheck and creates pressure on defenders going back to retrieve the puck. He is physical along the boards, looking to finish his checks on those defencemen. He has the willingness to battle in the corners and get himself in front of the net. Katchouk is strong on the cycle, using his body to effectively shield defenders away from the puck. He has a good wrist shot and decent release. He can also score on tip-ins and deflections.
Katchouk has really improved as a playmaker over the last two years. He is now a strong stick handler who can drive the play in the offensive zone. He can make quick moves in order to get around defenders or create space in the offensive zone. Once he gets a step on a defender he loves to take the puck to the front of the net. He sees the ice well and has really improved his passing skills as well. Katchouk finds open teammates and creates scoring chances.
Katchouk plays a strong defensive game. He brings his tenacity and his grit to his own end of the ice, where he is willing to engage in board battles and fight for loose pucks. He supplies back pressure and supports the defence down low when necessary. Katchouk is not afraid to get out on his point man and block shots either. His defensive awareness and hockey IQ are well advanced for a teenager.
Katchouk likely heads back to the AHL where he will spend another season or two with the Syracuse Crunch. Katchouk’s power game could eventually bring a unique element to the Lightning forward group. It often takes power forwards a little longer to develop and so Katchouk’s struggles shouldn’t be too concerning as he was a 20-year-old AHL rookie.
#10 Prospect: Gabriel Fortier
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 6th, 2000 — Lachine, Quebec
Height 5’10” — Weight 172 lbs [178 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2nd round, #59 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft
Fortier had a solid season as the captain of Baie-Comeau, putting up 35 goals and 83 points in 68 games. He also put up three points in seven games in the QMJHL playoffs. After the season, Fortier joined the Syracuse Crunch. He played in four regular-season games and one playoff game.
Fortier is an outstanding skater. He has excellent top-end speed and he reaches his top speed in just a few strides. If Fortier gets a step on his man, he can accelerate past him and cut to the net. He also has outstanding edge work and agility. This helps him to slip through traffic both with and without the puck. For a junior player, he is strong on his skates and able to win battles on the boards. However, he may need to get stronger to play this style of game at the pro level.
He also has a good wrist shot that he can use if defenders back off too much to respect his speed. It could be even better going forward as he adds more upper body strength. He already has developed a quick and effective release that can fool goaltenders. A hard worker, Fortier crashes the net and creates issues for opposing goaltenders and defences. He is in the middle of every scrum. With his skill, he is also able to finish plays and bang in goals close to the net.
Fortier continues to improve his assist totals by getting in quickly on the forecheck, creating turnovers and working hard to control the puck in the cycle game. His hard work extended plays and created opportunities for his teammates. He has also shown good vision and the ability to make tough passes through tight spaces to create scoring chances for his teammates.
Fortier also works hard in his own end and is an excellent penalty killer. He does a great job of cutting down passing lanes and using an active stick both to cut off passes and to poke check opponents. He works hard on the backcheck, supporting the defence against the cycle game and containing opposing forwards. Overall his well-rounded game will make him a favourite of coaches going forward.
Fortier has another year in the QMJHL ahead of him. If the Drakkar are not a top contender at the trade deadline, expect to see him moved to a team who is. Once his junior career is done, he will need a year or two at the AHL level.
Sleeper Prospect: Otto Somppi
Center — shoots Left
Born January 12th, 1998 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’2″ — Weight 188 lbs [188 cm / 85 kg]
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 7th round, #206 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft
Somppi struggled in the AHL this season, putting up just two goals and four points in 27 games for Syracuse. Down in the ECHL, he was a dominant player with 12 goals and 24 points in 21 regular-season games. However, he was unable to produce any points in three playoff games.
Somppi has very good speed and acceleration. He can change speeds on the rush, using this as a weapon to fool defenders. Somppi also has very good agility and edgework. He can make quick cuts and beat defenders in one-on-one situations. Somppi needs to improve his core strength, as this was exposed a bit at the pro level. This will help him to fight through checks and to win battles along the boards and to fight for position in front of the net.
Somppi combines his good skating with nifty puck handling to be very dangerous off the rush. He can create space for teammates to get open and then hit them with a tape-to-tape pass. His speed and shiftiness make him very difficult to defend in open ice. When working the cycle game, he can get pushed off the puck and will need to bulk up. Somppi has a good shot but does not use it often enough.
Somppi has a strong defensive game. He is good positionally, cutting down passing and shooting lanes. He backchecks hard and supports the defence down low but can lack the ability to contain bigger and stronger forwards. When a turnover is created Somppi is able to quickly transition it into offensive opportunities. He is good in the face-off circle and was able to win key draws for Orlando.
Somppi is likely headed to Syracuse this year. The Lightning would like to see his junior and ECHL offence translate at the AHL level. They also hope that he can put on weight in order to be ready to play the NHL game. He is likely at least a 2-3 year project before he is NHL ready.
A perennial contender, the Lightning have been drafting late in the first round and have also moved picks and prospects to improve the team. Despite that, an excellent record of uncovering late-round gems and undrafted free agents has kept the Bolts prospect group relatively deep.
Forward prospects to keep an eye on include: Maxime Cajkovic, Mikhail Shalagin, Ross Colton, Jimmy Huntington, Dennis Yan, Cole Guttman, and Sammy Walker. Defensive depth worth watching includes Ben Thomas, Dmitri Semykin, Max Crozier, Matthew Spencer, and Nick Perbix. 2019 second-round pick Hugo Alnefelt takes the role as the team’s future goaltender.
Tampa Bay Lightning Prospects Main Photo:
LAVAL, QC, CANADA – DECEMBER 15: Cal Foote #25 of the Syracuse Crunch in control of the puck against the Laval Rocket at Place Bell on December 15, 2018, in Laval, Quebec. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images)