The 2018-19 season is over. Now is the time to take a look at some of the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects (Cal Foote, Boris Katchouk, and Alexander Volkov) and what they have been up to this year. Have some taken a step forward or backward?
Prospect wise, Tampa Bay picks in the 27th slot this year. The Lightning pick six times in the 2019 NHL Draft.
2018-19 Top 10 Tampa Bay Lightning Prospects
1. Cal Foote, D – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Drafted: 14th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Tampa Bay.
Foote improves every day on defense and compiled 10 goals, 31 points, and 53 penalty minutes in 76 games. His first full season in the AHL was a rather successful one and 2019-20 expects to be even better.
Debate exists as to whether Foote is Tampa Bay’s best prospect. However, in a lean class (due to graduating prospects), it is Cal Foote, who has risen through the ranks in Syracuse and could be in line for a call-up sometime next season. Foote keeps improving and that is something which cannot be disputed. He was able to see the ice and make plays much better over the second half of the season. Finally, Foote continually must keep his head up. When he does, good things often happen.
2. Boris Katchouk, W – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/ 198
Drafted: 44th pick in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft by Tampa Bay.
The forward carries much upside and even gained a valuable 75 games with Syracuse this year. Goal scoring was not great but remember this was his first year in the AHL. Transitions like that can always be difficult.
Again, some argue that Katchouk may not be more than a middle-six forward. There are still some who disagree and believe there is room for the winger to improve into a top-line winger. It depends on who one talks to. One thing is clear. He plays well enough to be good. It is a question of can he develops into something good enough or better than that.
3. Alexander Volkov, W — Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Draft: 48th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Tampa Bay.
Volkov scored over 20 goals again for the Syracuse Crunch again this year. That makes him one of the few players to have back to back 20-20 seasons. The winger has an above average shot which he still forgets to utilize at times. He shoots the puck okay but nothing great.
So, the question becomes do you finally let Volkov play with the Lightning? At some point, the feeling is the forward who has developed some pretty good offensive-instincts, will get his chance. As the roster up in Tampa Bay feeling the salary cap crunch, the feeling is a call-up of Volkov will happen.
4. Mitchell Stephens, C – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Drafted: 33rd overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Tampa Bay.
Stephens enjoyed a solid first year in Syracuse last season and expectations were high going into this year. It did not quite pan out that way. However, the forward tallied 24 points in 32 games which were encouraging. Injury concerns aside, Stephens was able to play in the playoffs gaining valuable experience.
His upside is that of a middle-six forward. That may fluctuate some but based on what has been seen, Stephens has grown steadily. The center battles hard for pucks and is more nimble than pundits think. Stephens possesses an extra gear that catches opponents off guard. His offseason training program will be vital for Stephens as he battles to make the NHL next season and overcome injury doubts.
5. Dominik Masin, D – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Drafted: 35th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Tampa Bay.
The defenseman took a step back this year for Syracuse but did mostly play against tougher competition. Defensive zone starts were up and his offensive production was halved — 24 to 12 points. Goals dropped from nine to two and part of that was a reluctance to shoot accurately.
One of his biggest assets Masin possesses is his ability to be physical on the puck. Yes, Masin takes a few too many penalties but the bigger decision is what lurks on the horizon. Does Tampa Bay re-sign him since his entry-level deal is up? His regression causes some to worry a bit in the organization. A decision will have to be made before the draft possibly.
6. Taylor Raddysh, W – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Drafted: 58th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Tampa Bay.
Raddysh transitioned nicely into the AHL tallying 46 points in 70 games with Syracuse. His playoff numbers were not so good but then again it was a nightmare for Syracuse as they were humbled by Cleveland. Raddysh’s shot may be his biggest asset going forward.
Furthermore, he skates well for a big man. There is no concern about his first stride and has a solid vision of the ice. In time, Raddysh will be an absolute handful even in the NHL. His upside is that of a 30 goal forward who can play second line and even some top line minutes as needed.
7. Danick Martel, F – Syracuse (AHL), Tampa Bay (NHL)
Martel claimed by Tampa Bay off waivers by Philadelphia was not that surprising. However, injuries derailed his season as he was limited to just 13 games between Syracuse and Tampa Bay. In his nine games with Tampa, he showed a physical edge with some speed that drew notice. There remain many red flags and question marks, unfortunately.
The winger shows a dynamic ability to avoid hits yet be able to battle for pucks in corners with some tenacity. Philadelphia handled the forward in a slightly questionable way then put him on waivers. Now, Tampa Bay faces a problem with him as they saw so little of what he could do. There lies some talent but again, questions abound with durability and NHL ability.
8. Alex Barre-Boulet, C – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Boulet broke out in the QMJHL regular season in a big way for Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He tallied 116 points in 65 games. The playoffs the year before showed that the prospect could score goals as well as make a solid first pass. Much has changed since then as his transition to Syracuse was an instant success.
Fortunately, the upside is still of a top-six winger with power play aspirations. Size matters little here because there is definite talent with Boulet. He scored 34 goals and added 34 assists for the Crunch. The next question is when does the pivot get called up for Tampa Bay. That time may come sooner rather than later given Tampa Bay’s cap issues. Boulet will rank much higher in Tampa prospect lists come next season.
9. Gabriel Fortier, LW – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Drafted: 59th overall in the second round of the 2018 Draft by Tampa Bay.
Fortier signed an entry-level deal and played a few games for the Syracuse Crunch after a very nice season in the QMJHL. The former Baie-Comeau Drakkar scored 35 times in 68 games while adding 48 assists. His line was one of the best in the QMJHL during the regular season and his play impressed Tampa Bay.
Also, his speed and ability to battle for pucks improved greatly in the last year which somewhat explains a jump in his numbers. The expectation is that Fortier probably plays at least a year more for Syracuse before any potential call-up. He needs that time to adjust to the AHL level. Fortier appears to be a quick learner so do not be surprised if he thrives for Syracuse. He will also move up many lists rapidly next season for Tampa Bay.
10. Connor Ingram, G – Syracuse Crunch (AHL), Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Drafted: 88th overall in the third round of the 2016 draft by Tampa Bay
Sadly, a divorce between the Tampa Bay organization and Ingram seems inevitable. However, he possesses undisputable talent. In 22 starts with Syracuse, he won 14 times and posted a 2.26 goals-against average with a .922 save percentage.
The goalie nearly beat Florida by himself while playing for Orlando of the ECHL. Again, the thought process of Tampa Bay is a little questionable as this cannot be all on the young goalie. Can it? Apparently, it appears another team will acquire the services of Ingram next season and they will look wise for doing so. That is unless Tampa Bay has a change of heart.