It's been six weeks or so since the Lightning started sending organizational depth and prospects to their respective clubs for the upcoming season. The professionals that didn't make the NHL squad were sent to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL and a handful were sent to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. The professional prospects are a bit more well known and easier to follow thanks to the work of our own Allokago and her weekly updates on the Crunch. With that in mind, I've picked out a handful of promising juniors prospects to take a look at their productivity with their respective junior organizations in the CHL.
C Brayden Point - Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
"Tyler Johnson Lite" is a good way to describe Point. A small and highly skilled player, Point was taken in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. He was in camp with Team Canada for a World Junior Cup preliminary camp and had the most points for Team Canada despite only playing 2 of the 4 games. He also appeared in two Lightning preseason games before being sent back to his junior team, the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
In 14 games, Point has scored 12 goals and notched 20 assists for 32 points. That's more than 2 points per game and makes him the leading scorer in the WHL, 3 points ahead of his teammate Dryden Hunt. However, the forward depth and the offense from the blue line for Moose Jaw is lacking and has them sitting in 6th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference and 3rd place in their division. This still has them sitting in a playoff position and as long as the team continues to keep pace, Moose Jaw will hopefully look to make some moves to shore up some of their weaknesses. They do however have a pretty good young goaltender in Zach Sawchenko. If Moose Jaw should slip in the standings though, it wouldn't be surprising to see them move Brayden Point to another team to help them reload.
ETA: AHL 2016-17, NHL 2017-18
LW Dennis Yan - Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Like Point, Dennis Yan is a bit of an overlooked offensive talent having slipped to the third round. He holds both US and Russian citizenship and spent some of his youth years playing hockey in Russia. He was a member of the U.S. National Development Team before choosing to move to Canadian Major Junior Hockey instead of NCAA college hockey. He is playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Shawinigan has a good mix of players and have been performing well to start the season and is currently sitting 2nd overall in the league standings.
Yan has been one of their best players and is second on his team in scoring with 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points in 14 games. Again, a two points per game pace. Those kind of scoring rates in major junior hockey put you in the elite level. Yan has a wicked shot and has been putting it on display so far. Yan has a long ways to go on the defensive side of the puck and will have another year in juniors next season before making his professional debut. He is a project, but he could turn out to be a diamond in the rough for Steve Yzerman and company.
ETA: AHL 2017-18, NHL 2019-2020
D Mattt Spencer and D Dominik Masin - Peterborough Petes (OHL)
I'm going to combine both of these defensemen into one entry to save a little space. Masin was a 2014 2nd round pick and Spencer was a 2015 2nd round pick. Masin's easiest comparable is to Radko Gudas while Spencer is more of a two-way player with decent offensive skills. For both players, you'd like to see them performing offensively with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, but neither has really shown up very much on the score sheet with Spencer having 5 points and Masin with 3 points. The interesting stat that stands out though is Masin's +14 plus/minus rating. He's on the ice for a lot of even strength goals, he's just not getting the points from it. Masin was rewarded a few weeks ago by signing his Entry Level Contract. He is a bit of a project, but if he reaches his ceiling, you'll have a very good people moving third pair left handed defenseman.
ETA Masin: AHL 2016-17, NHL 2018-19
ETA Spencer: AHL 2017-18, NHL 2019-20