This past week the Tampa Bay Lightning held their annual Prospect Development Camp at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
This camp is where recently drafted players can come and show the Lightning’s front office and coaching staff their skills so that they can gauge what level of talent they have in their farm system.
Every year there are some players who are more NHL ready then others.
With that being said, here are the five players from development camp to watch for in the coming year:
1. RW Jonathan Drouin
Jonathan Drouin was taken with the third overall pick in last year’s NHL entry draft. Many thought that he would be on the Lightning’s roster during the 2013-2014 season but he was sent back to Juniors to work on his defense. This year at camp drouin looks stronger and more sure of himself as a hockey player. He also looks stronger defensively. I fully expect Drouin to make his Lightning debut this season and play on one of the top two lines by the end of the season.
2. G Andrey Vasilevskiy
Bolts Nation rejoiced when it was announced this spring that Vasilevskiy would be coming to North America this coming season. Vasilevskiy is another huge goaltender who has extremely quick reflexes and positions himself greatly. It is extremely tough to beat this goaltender because he positions himself so well. I would expect Vasilevskiy to spend this season in Syracuse in order to learn the North American game.
3. G Kristers Gudlevskis
Last season Kristers Gudlevskis was the first goaltender in the history of hockey to play in the ECHL, AHL, NHL, and Olympics. Wherever he went, he was dominant. In his first NHL game he made 36 saves and got the win. In the Olympics against Canada, the Latvian made 55 saves in a 2-1 losing effort. He was one of the most talked about players in the entire tournament. Like Vasilevskiy, I would expect him to spend the year in Syracuse developing a bit more. However, if there is an injury to Bishop or Nabokov then I would fully expect Gudlevskis to be the call up.
4. D Slater Koekkoek
One of the most interesting players in the Lightning’s farm system is Slater Koekkoek. The 2012 first rounder has had each of his past three seasons end with shoulder surgeries. The talent is there but the health is a question mark that can’t be ignored. However, there is something about Koekkoek’s demeanor that makes you know that he is a leader and a fighter. I believe that even with the injuries he will push through and make the Syracuse Crunch roster for the coming season. He is somebody who I am really rooting for.
5. LW Adam Erne
Erne was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft. He is known for his bruising style of physical play and for going 100% all of the time. Unfortunately for Erne his time at camp was cut short because of a lingering wrist injury. Erne has signed an entry level contract with the Lightning but he is eligible to play in the Juniors for another season. It will be interesting to see what is done with him.