Luke Witkowski
Image: NHL

Luke Witkowski

Hometown:

Holland Michigan

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1990-04-14

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2008

Shoots:

Right

Drafted:

2008

Height:

6-2

Acquired:

6th round (160th overall), 2008

Weight:

200 lbs.

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History

2007-08: Luke Witkowski spent the season with the Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets in the USHL. He appeared in 58 games and scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was -10 with 139 PIM. Witkowski signed a letter of intent to play college hockey at Western Michigan University in 2009-10.

2008-09: Witkowski spent his second USHL season with the Fargo Force after Ohio left the league. As a captain for Coach Dean Blais’ team, he scored 6 goals with 16 assists and was +30 with 118 PIM in 55 games. In 10 playoff games, Witkowski scored 2 goals, both on the power play, with 1 assist and was +1 with 29 PIM as Fargo defeated Lincoln in the first round before falling to Indiana.

2009-10: Witkowski played 32 games as a freshman for Western Michigan. He scored 2 goals, both power play goals, with 4 assists and 67 PIM and was -13 on a Broncos team that won just eight games all season and finished last in the CCHA.

2010-11: Witkowski skated in all 42 games for Western Michigan as a sophomore as the Broncos were one of the big turnaround stories in college hockey. He finished plus-13 with 56 penalty minutes and scored 1 goal with 8 assists. After finishing fourth in the CCHA, the Broncos reached the CCHA championship game and took WCHA power Denver to two overtimes in an NCAA regional game.

2011-12: Witkowski provided a key defensive presence and physical play while chipping in offensively for Western Michigan as a junior. He led the Broncos with 66 penalty minutes and was plus-eight while scoring 2 goals with 11 assists in 40 games. Under former NHL coach Andy Murray the Broncos won 21 games (the most since 1995-96) and defeated Michigan in the CCHA Championship game to earn their second straight NCAA tournament berth.

2012-13: Witkowski signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Lightning in April 2013 following his senior season at Western Michigan and made his pro hockey debut with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. In three AHL games he was an even plus/minus with no points and 4 penalty minutes. The Crunch finished first in the East Division and reached the AHL Finals against Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids. Witkowski did not appear in any playoff games. He played 38 games for Western Michigan in his final season and was -3 with 46 penalty minutes; scoring 2 goals (both on the power play) with 8 assists. The Broncos finished third in the CCHA but were swept by Michigan in a CCHA quarterfinal series and did not receive an NCAA tournament bid.

2013-14: Witkowski skated in all 76 regular season games for Tampa Bay AHL affiliate Syracuse in his first pro season, the only Crunch player to do so. He scored 2 goals with 10 assists and was -1 while leading the team with 204 penalty minutes. Syracuse finished fifth in the East Division, missing the AHL playoffs.

2014-15: Witkowski made his NHL debut with the Lightning on January 20th in a game against Vancouver and skated in 16 games for Tampa Bay, spending most of his second pro season with AHL affiliate Syracuse. He had no points and an even plus/minus with 15 penalty minutes, averaging 15 minutes of ice time per game with the Lightning. Witkowski scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was +6 with 91 penalty minutes in 50 regular season games for Syracuse. The Crunch finished second behind Hartford in the Northeast Division in the re-aligned AHL before being swept by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the first round of the playoffs. Witkowski was +2 with 1 assist and 4 penalty minutes in three playoff games.

Talent Analysis

Witkowski is a big player who leads by example with hard work and physical play. He can handle a lot of ice time and relishes combative play. Witkowski has playmaking ability and and makes smart, quick passes to go along with his hitting game. His mobility and agility can be an issue at times but have improved since his junior hockey days.

Future

After completing his entry-level contract, Witkowski showed enough to earn a qualifying offer from the Lightning in the summer and will return to the organization to compete for a bottom-pairing or seventh defenseman spot on the roster. The most likely scenario is that he starts the year with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, but could very well earn time with the Lightning if injuries occur.

Tampa Bay prospect pool overflowing with character

by Kyle West
on
Photo: Vladislav Namestnikov is the second ranked prospect in
Tampa Bay's Spring top-20. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect pool emerged as the unofficial league leaders in feel-good stories this season. The AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals set a new record with an incredible 27 straight wins to finish the season and swept the award elections for the first time ever. AHL Coach of the Year Jon Cooper took a bow with AHL Defenseman of the Year Mark Barberio and AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher.
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