Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning top pick Slater Koekkoek, currently playing for the OHL's Peterborough Petes, receives his jersey and hat from current Lightning GM and former Pete Steve Yzerman (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
In what was a popular theme for this year's NHL Draft crop, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected with their top pick one of the prospects that missed a great deal of the 2011-12 season due to an injury.
Photo: Tampa Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Head Coach Guy Boucher flank 2011 top pick, Vladislav Namestnikov, at last year's NHL Draft (courtesy of Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)
The Tampa Bay Lightning finished the 2011-12 season with a 38-36-8 record and eight points out of the eighth playoff spot. The biggest issue for the Lightning during the regular season was keeping the puck out of their net and winning on the road, as the Lightning finished with the league's worst goals against average and a 13-22-6 record on the road.
Photo: Winger Cory Conacher was among the top players in the AHL in 2011-12 and a key part of Norfolk's run to the Calder Cup. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
Though the Tampa Bay Lightning
fell well short of an NHL playoff berth, many of the players affiliated with the organization still enjoyed a successful 2011-12 season. The greatest success was felt at the AHL
level, where the Norfolk Admirals marched through the Calder Cup playoffs to a championship, posting a 15-3 record in the process and dominating the opposition at seemingly every turn.
Sniper Chris Kreider recently joined the Rangers for their extended 2012 playoff run. Kreider has been one of the Rangers top prospects since he was drafted in in 2009. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle third of Hockey's Future NHL Organizational rankings as voted by the Hockey's Future staff. To determine the ranking, each team's entire prospect pool was taken into consideration. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.
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.