Lightning Top 20 prospects, Fall 2009

By Jeff Shafer

Lightning Top 20 at a Glance

1. Victor Hedman, D – 9.0C
2. Carter Ashton, C – 7.5C
3. Richard Panik, C – 7.5D
4. Matt Lashoff, D – 7.5C
5. Dana Tyrell, C – 7.0C
6. Dustin Tokarski, G – 7.0C
7. Karri Ramo, G – 7.0C
8. Vladimir Mihalik, D – 7.0C
9. Ty Wishart, D – 7.0C
10. Martins Karsums, RW- 6.5C
11. Steve Downie, C – 7.0C
12. Paul Szczechura, C – 6.5C
13. Mitch Fadden, C – 7.0C
14. Alex Hutchings, C – 7.0D
15. Blair Jones, C – 6.5C
16. Johan Harju, LW – 7.0C
17. Mark Barberio, D – 6.5C
18. Radek Smolenak, LW – 6.5D
19. Lauri Tukonen, RW – 7.0D
20. Alex Killorn, LW – 7.0D


1. Victor Hedman, D – 9.0C

6’6 220 lbs
Born: 12-18-1990
Acquired: 1st Round, 2009

The Tampa Bay Lightning received an absolute gem in this past June draft when they selected Victor Hedman with the second overall pick in the draft. He possesses explosive speed, size and the puck-handling skills to quarterback a power play. Last season for Modo of the SEL, Hedman recorded seven goals and 21 points in 43 games to earn Rookie of the Year. His skating is smooth for a player of his size at 6’6 220 lbs. Look for Hedman, who recently completed the Lightning’s rookie player development camp, to grab one of the top six spots on the team’s blue line. He may need to become more physical in his defensive zone to reach full effectiveness.

2. Carter Ashton, RW – 7.5C
6’2 202 lbs
Born: 04-01-1991
Acquired: 1st Round, 2009

The son of former NHLer Brent Ashton, Carter Ashton is a budding two-way forward and a chip off the old block. Versatile, he can play all three forward positions. Ashton is extremely difficult to knock off the puck and has excellent hands around the net. This past season, Ashton posted 30 goals and 50 points in 70 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. Look for him to play at least one more season in the WHL before turning pro. He still needs to work on his limited passing abilities and producing on his own. 

3. Richard Panik, C – 7.5D
6’2 185 lbs
Born: 02-07-1991
Acquired: 2nd Round, 2009

Panik, who for the past two seasons has played for Trinec Ocelari HC of the Czech Republic, was thought to be a potential top-ten draft pick before the season began, but he had a season-ending surgery that pushed him into the second round. Panik is a strong skater and uses his body well, while possessing great offensive instincts. He is a pure goal scorer and patterns his game after Alex Ovechkin. The knock on Panik is he needs to improve his consistency, but he has time to work on that.

4. Matt Lashoff, D – 7.5C
6’2 205 lbs
Born: 09-29-1986
Acquired: Trade with Boston, 2009

Lashoff came to Tampa from Boston in the Mark Recchi trade in March 2009. He split the season between Providence and Norfolk of the AHL, playing 35 AHL games and posting respectable numbers with five goals, 21 points and a -2. Lashoff also played 16 games for the Bruins and 12 for the Lightning where he accumulated eight assists in a 28-game span. He has an excellent shot next season at one of the last spots on the Lightning blue line. His mean streak and his ability to skate will put him in an advantage over his competition.  

5. Dana Tyrell, C – 7.0C   
5’10 185 lbs
Born: 04-23-1985
Acquired: 2nd Round, 2007

Playing for the Prince George Cougars, Tyrell posted 19 goals and 41 points in just 30 games after suffering a knee injury. Tyrell possesses great top-end speed and acceleration allowing him to get into corners first and dig out loose pucks. His forechecking is sound, he has a great shot, and has extremely effective playmaking abilities. Tyrell will start the 2009-10 season in Norfolk, where he will bring his rigorous work ethic on and off the ice.

6. Dustin Tokarski, G – 7.0C

5’11 185 lbs
Born: 09-16-1989
Acquired: 5th Round, 2008

Tokarski played for Canada in the 2009 WJCs. He struggled early in the tournament, entering the final as the eighth-best goaltender statistically. He played extremely well against Sweden in the championship game, however, to lead Canada to its fifth consecutive gold medal. Tokarski lead the WHL with the lowest GAA, posting a 1.97 for the Spokane Chiefs, while being peppered with the most shots against in the league with 1688. Tokarski also had the best save percentage with a .937, he also finished first in shootout percentage, tied for first in shutouts with seven, and fifth in wins with 34 during the 2008-09 season. He will still need to prove that at 5’11, he’s good enough for the pros.

7. Karri Ramo, G – 7.0C
6’2 201 lbs
Born: 07-01-1986
Acquired: 6th Round, 2004

Ramo made his NHL debut in 2008-09, appearing in 24 games and posting a record of 4-10-7 with a GAA of 3.66. Ramo also appearing in 26 games for Norfolk where he didn’t perform much better, posting a record of 7-14-4 with a GAA of 3.78. He struggled with his rebound control while often being overly aggressive at challenging shooters. He usually was calm under heavy pressure but the lack of defensive presence placed a heavy burden on the young goaltender. In June, Ramo signed a two-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. He was set to be the backup to goaltender Mike Smith before signing. Ramo’s NHL hopes are on hold.

8. Vladimir Mihalik, D – 7.0C
6’7 222 lbs
Born: 01-29-1987
Acquired: 1st Round, 2005

Mihalik played the majority of the season in Norfolk where he demonstrated the shutdown abilities that scouts saw in him when he was drafted in 2005. In 61 games, Mihalik had two goals, 15 points and 58 penalty minutes. Due to injuries on the Tampa blue line, Mihalik was called up three times and played 11 games with the Lightning. He fared rather well, posting three assists in those contests. He needs to improve his involvement during games next season, and improve his physical game if he plans on being a top-six defenseman. Look for Mihalik to play in Norfolk most of this season.

9. Ty Wishart, D – 7.0C
6’4 205 lbs
Born: 05-19-1988
Acquired: Trade with San Jose, 2008

Wishart played the 2008-09 campaign with the Admirals where in 61 games he scored one goal, seven points, and had 25 penalty minutes. He also appeared in five games with the Lightning, tallying an assist. Wishart has excellent size, decent offensive instincts and an all-around prowess from the back end. Wishart will most likely remain in Norfolk this fall where he’ll be able to log more ice time and get more acquainted with the pro game.

10. Martins Karsums, RW – 6.5C
5’10 192 lbs
Born: 02-26-2986
Acquired: Trade with Boston, 2009

Karsums came to the Lightning in the Recchi trade. He is someone who can lay the body and play at both ends of the ice. He owns a rambunctious style of play that rubs off on his teammates. During the 2008-09 season, Karsums appeared in 43 games for the Providence Bruins of the AHL, amassing 17 goals and 41 points. He had a brief stint with the Boston Bruins playing in six games before being traded to Tampa. He played in 18 games for the Lightning, scoring five points including his first career NHL goal. Karsums translates into an extremely effective checking line winger with some offense.

11. Steve Downie, C – 7.0C

5’10 192 lbs
Born: 04-03-1987
Acquired: Trade with Flyers, 2008

Downie had an extremely eventful season during 2008-09; he started out with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL playing in only four games but posting eight points. He was then recalled by the Flyers but after five games, then was shipped south to the Lightning. He was sent to the Norfolk where he was one of the better offensive threats scoring eight goals and 25 points in 23 games before being suspended 20 games for slashing a referee. He has always been an agitator as his track record has shown. He then finished the last 23 games with the Lightning, scoring three goals and three assists with 54 penalty minutes. Look for Downie to play with the Lightning in 2009-10 as he had good chemistry with Steve Stamkos.

12. Paul Szczechura, C – 6.5B

5’11 190 lbs
Born: 11-30-1985
Acquired: Free Agent, 2008

Szczechura finished his second pro season with Norfolk and the Lightning. He played extremely effectively in 33 games with Norfolk, with 13 goals and 32 points. He then was recalled by the Lightning performing well in 31 games, scoring four goals and nine assists. Szczechura is a responsible player in his own zone, skates well and displays a modicum of offensive skill. He can be used in a variety of ways such as a penalty killer and face-off specialist. He’ll earn a role on one of the checking lines.

13. Mitch Fadden, C – 7.0C

6’0 175 lbs
Born: 04-03-1988
Acquired: 4th Round, 2007

One of the most outstanding finishers in the WHL, Fadden possesses silky soft hands. Fadden began the season with Lethbridge, but nine games into the season he was traded to the Tri-City Americans. During the season, he scored 35 goals and 71 points in 54 games and during the postseason he recorded three goals and 16 points in 10 games. Fadden led the team in points and was tied for the lead with a +7. He signed an entry-level contract in June and will begin his pro career with Norfolk. He has the potential to be a 20 to 30-goal scorer in the NHL.

14. Alex Hutchings, C – 7.0D
5’10 179 lbs
Born: 11-07-1990
Acquired: 4th Round, 2009

Hutchings finished 2008-09 with the Barrie Colts of the OHL; he led his team in scoring with 34 goals and 68 points in 63 games. During the postseason, he managed to score three goals and seven points in five games before being knocked out in the first round. Hutchings has NHL speed while being aggressive and intelligent on and off the ice. He is a good leader and was Barrie’s go-to guy. He will remain with the Colts next season while trying to improve on his numbers and his upper-body strength.    

15. Blair Jones, C – 6.5C

6’3 210 lbs
Born: 09-27-1986
Acquired: 4th Round, 2005

Jones was the second leading scorer for Norfolk scoring 20 goals and 54 points in 80 games. He has an incredibly good combination of size and playmaking skills for the center position. Jones should get an opportunity to crack the Lightning lineup this season. He is a gritty player who doesn’t hesitate to go into traffic areas. He would be a good fit along the third line because he is an exceptional forechecker and doesn’t hesitate to be physical in the process.

16. Johan Harju, LW – 7.0C

6’3 205 lbs
Born: 05-15-1986
Acquired: 6th Round, 2007

Harju recently finished his fifth season with Lulea HF of the SEL. He accumulated 27 goals and 49 points in 55 games, good for second on the team in points behind Edmonton draft pick Linus Omark. His versatility makes him an excellent candidate to make a quick transition to the NHL; he is a pure sniper with a hard, quick, and accurate shot. In April of 2009, Harju signed with HC Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. He seems in no rush to cross the pond and play in the NHL. If and when Harju decides to come and play for the Lightning, he could make an immediate impact.

17. Mark Barberio, D – 6.5C
6’0 201 lbs
Born: 03-23-1990
Acquired: 6th Round, 2008

Playing for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, Barberio led his defense corps in scoring with 15 goals in 66 games and his 45 points were fifth on the team. Barberio is a sound and smart two-way defender. He is an effective player in all three zones and especially at the transition game. He has all the tools: strong skater, great puck skills, good decisions with puck, sees the ice well, good crisp outlet pass, strong on neutral zone regroups, and good shot from the point. He has another year of junior to go.
 
18. Radek Smolenak, LW – 6.5D
6’2 180 lbs
Born: 12-03-1986
Acquired: 3rd Round, 2005

In the 2008-09 season, Smolenak played 71 games for Norfolk, compiling 24 goals and 49 points to go along with 165 penalty minutes. He also saw 10 games with the Lightning, in which he scored one point. Smolenak isn’t afraid of mixing it up with opponents and pays the price to score goals. In May of 2009, Smolenak signed a contract with Niznekamsk of the KHL. It will be hard to make the NHL from Europe.

19. Lauri Tukonen, RW – 7.0D
6’2 198 lbs
Born: 09-01-1986
Acquired: Trade with Dallas, 2008

Tukonen recently signed a one-year contract with the Lightning. Last season he played for Ilves Tampere and Lukko Rauma in Finland. He posted respectable numbers: eight goals, 21 points in 35 games between the two clubs. He is only 22 and uses his size well in the offensive zone. Tukonen is also strong on the puck at all times and isn’t afraid of mixing it up. If he performs well, he could earn a role with the Lightning as a utility player. He’ll probably begin in Norfolk earning more ice time; two NHL organizations already give up on the Finn so he has a lot to prove.

20. Alex Killorn, LW – 7.0D
6’1 161 lbs
Born: 09-14-1989
Acquired: 3rd Round, 2007

Killorn embarked on his freshman season at the Harvard where he put up respectable numbers in 30 games: six goals, 14 points and 46 penalty minutes. He is known to have a nasty side to his game, and is a good skater with outstanding acceleration. Killorn plans to get his degree from Harvard, therfore it will be a while before his makes any impact on the Lightning organization. Killorn has the upside to be a second liner at the top level, but it will take years of development, particularly physically, for him to reach that potential.