Year of the Tampa Bay Lightning Rookie: Who is YOUR favorite?

This has definitely been the year of the younger talent for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Six, yes six, rookies have made their NHL debuts for the team this year. But which one of them is YOUR favorite?

February 19, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Cory Conacher (89) skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

First up, we have Cory Conacher. Conacher made his NHL debut with the Lightning this year on January 19th at the home opener against the Washington Capitals.

That very same night, he would earn his very first point. Well, two, actually. He would first earn an assist off of a Power Play Goal scored by Martin St. Louis early in the second period. Then, with just under 7 minutes left in regulation, Conacher fires one past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby making the score 5-3 Lightning. After a Power Play Goal by Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer, the Lightning went on to defeat the Capitals 6-3.

Since then, he leads the NHL in Points amongst Rookies this season with 7 goals and 13 assists for a total of 20 points in the 27 games he has played so far this season. He also leads the Lightning Rookies in Shots on Goal with 41.

March 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Next up, we have Alex Killorn. The 6’2, 205 pound Center made his debut with the Bolts on February 10thagainst the New York Rangers.

Unfortunately, the Lightning were not as successful against the Rangers as they were the Capitals, but that does not take away from the fact that Killorn too found himself with a point on his first night on the ice. Late in the second period, he garnered an assist from a goal scored by Captain Vincent Lecavalier. Since his debut, Killorn has scored a total of 10 points consisting of 4 goals and 6 assists. He is currently tied with Cory Conacher among the Lightning roster for Game Winning Goals.

This brings me to Richard Panik. The 6’1, 208 pound RW made his NHL debut on February 12th against the Montreal Canadiens.

February 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Richard Panik (71) skates up ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This was two days after Lightning LW Ryan Malone went down with a Lower Body Injury. While Panik did bring a lot of things to the Lightning line up, unfortunately, he did not see many points. It wasn’t until February 23rd against the Carolina Hurricanes that he registered his first point with a goal in the third period. This would turn out of be the game winning goal. Since returning to the Syracuse Crunch on March 1st, he has registered another 3 assists bringing him to a total of 21 goals and 19 assists for a total of 40 points this season with the Crunch.

Next up, we have Ondrej Palat. The 6’, 180 pound LW made his debut with the Lightning on March 4th against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mar 5, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (74) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center. Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Much like the other Lightning rookies, Palat scored his first point right out of the tunnel. Late in the second period, he and Nate Thompson set up the “Nose Shot Heard Around the World” as Tom Pyatt’s nose fired one in on Marc-Andre Fleury. In the next 5 games, he added another assist for 2 points this season. While with Syracuse this season, he has scored a total of 11 goals and 33 assists for a total of 44 points. He is also sitting pretty with a plus-24 rating on the AHL side.

Mar 12, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (75) steps on Florida Panthers right wing Kris Versteeg (32) in the second period at the BB

Then we have Radko Gudas. This 6’, 204 pound defenseman known widely for his scruffy beard, made his Lightning debut on March 12th against the in-state rival, the Florida Panthers.

While not having his name on the scoreboard that night, Gudas did have some big hits against the Panthers, one of which ultimately sent Panthers RW Kris Versteeg out of the game. In the two games that he has played with the team so far, he has registered 2 shots on goal, and has had at least 34 minutes of ice time. While with Syracuse, he has scored 4 goals and 16 assists so far this season for a total of 20 points. He also leads the Crunch with a plus-32 rating.

This brings me to the latest addition to the Bolts roster, Tyler Johnson.

March 14, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (63) skates with the puck as New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (11) defends during the second period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson made his NHL debut on Thursday, March 14th against the New York Islanders at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

This 5’9, 182 pound Center from Spokane, WA has been on fire in the American Hockey League this season. With 32 goals and 26 assists this season, he is sitting in second place in the league for points and currently leads the AHL in Goals Scored. He also leads the Crunch with a whopping 176 shots on goal, and holds a plus-25 rating.

 

So there you have it, the six rookies who have made their NHL debuts with the Tampa Bay Lightning so far this season.

Which one of them is YOUR favorite? Pick your favorite Bolts Rookie in our poll. Let us know what made you choose your rookie in the comments below.

 

Out of the 6 Rookies who made their NHL Debuts with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, which one is YOUR favorite?

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Topics: Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay Lightning

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