After years of being near the bottom of the league in terms of depth, the Lightning’s new philosophy of drafting well and developing young talent under general manager Steve Yzerman is starting to pay off. Already with Calder (AHL) and Kelly (ECHL) Cups, as well as another trip to the AHL finals this season, in tow, the Lightning received another notch in their belts today as Hockey Prospectus released its 2013 organizational rankings with Tampa Bay at No. 1.
Hockey Prospectus’ rankings include players who have 25 or fewer regular season games in the NHL and are younger than 26-years-old. An organization’s strength is based on a variety of factors, including the quality of that team’s top prospects being most important, followed then by overall depth of the reserve list. Teams who hold the rights to star prospects, such as Jonathan Drouin, receive some extra value.
Of the Lightning, writer Corey Pronman said, “The Yzerman era has not yet been too successful at the NHL level, but at the prospect level, the Bolts have built the best system in hockey. Elite prospect Jonathan Drouin leads the way, and Tampa Bay has a ton of top talent elsewhere in their minor league affiliates and in the amateur ranks. The Lightning have a lot of very good prospects to go with their high-end quality depth, and that is true even with the fact that former sixth overall pick Brett Connolly no longer qualifies as a prospect. The future is bright for this organization.”
The high level of depth in the Lightning organization is now starting to become evident at the NHL level, as players such as Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Radko Gudas, Richard Panik, Mark Barberio and Ondrej Palat are all highly-touted prospects who made their NHL debuts this season.
With the pipeline continuing to flow the Lightning should continue to see a number of high-level prospects continuing to come to the locker room at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
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