Tampa Bay Lightning Year In Review: Slater Koekkoek

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Tampa Bay Lightning prepare to take on the 2016-17 season full steam ahead, let’s take a final look at the 2015-16 season had by Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are a mere 16 days away from the official start of the 2016-17 season. Soon, the Lightning will be hitting the ice with the hopes of making their way to the Eastern Conference Final for the third year in a row. One of the players hoping to help the Bolts on their journey is Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

Slater Koekkoek has yet to play even a half a season here in the Bolts Nation, but in the time he’s spent on the Lightning’s main roster, Koekkoek has gone above and beyond to make his presence known and prove he deserves to play a bigger role on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s blueline.

As most Lightning fans are painfully aware by now, the Bolts suffered way more than their fair share of injuries last season. The only bright side to this is it opened the door for many players in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s developmental system to make their way to the main roster and get experience playing at a higher level.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Fortunately for the 22-year-old Lightning defenseman, he was one of the many who made the trip from the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and play a number of games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Koekkoek was able to play in a total of nine regular season games with the Bolts. In terms of offense, Koekkoek was able to bring home an assist. On the bright side, what Koekkoek lacks in offense, he more than makes up when it comes to defense.

In the nine games Koekkoek played during the regular season, he made six hard hits. This equals out to around .7 hits per game. This doesn’t sound like much, but in actuality, it’s just .1 behind Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and .2 ahead of former Lightning defenseman Matt Carle and .03 ahead of Andrej Sustr.

In addition to the nine games Koekkoek played in the regular season, Koekkoek was also able to take the ice with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason. This includes time in the Eastern Conference Final as the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Koekkoek played in a total of 10 games with the Lightning in the postseason. Much like the regular season, Koekkoek was able to bring home an assist on the offensive side of things.

On the defensive side of things, Slater Koekkoek really stepped up and made an impact on the team. When it comes to hits, Koekkoek fell just a little bit behind. At the same time, with his six blocked shots Koekkoek found himself within just one point of another prominent Lightning defenseman, Anton Stralman.

While Koekkoek hasn’t quite made the same kind of impact as a defenseman like Victor Hedman or Anton Stralman, for a player who has only played in a handful of games in the National Hockey League, he has certainly left everything out on the ice and made his name known to the people in power.

Now, Slater Koekkoek finds himself with the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning back here in the Sunshine State for the Lightning’s yearly Training Camp. As Koekkoek said in an interview after the first day of on-ice work at Training Camp, his mission is to play his game to the best of his ability and do whatever he can to earn his place on the Lightning’s main roster.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Rival Report: Toronto Maple Leafs

There are only 16 days between now and the start of the 2016-17 season. This means there is only a limited amount of time for the players like Koekkoek who came from the Lightning’s developmental system to make their mark. It will be interesting to see who makes the cut and who has to wait another year to live their dream.