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Raw Charge round table: Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan’s contract, and rookies

Staffers at Raw Charge make their best guesses about Steve Yzerman’s choices going into the expansion draft, and what rookies might join the Tampa Bay Lightning next season.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

What’s the deal with Alex Killorn?

Recently Jon Cooper named Alex Killorn as part of a core group of players that “helped elevate” the Tampa Bay Lightning. Do we agree or disagree?

Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

GeoFitz4: The biggest problem with Killorn last year is that he was really good in the first third of the season and then disappeared. Actually, I take that back... he exploded in the first 10 games and then disappeared. A lot of people were going "Oh man, he's gonna score 30 goals this year" while he was riding a 33% shooting percentage.

iActium: I always said at max he'd top out at maybe 20 points. 25 if he got really hot.

GeoFitz4: 6 goals, 2 assists, and 8 points through the first 10 games... 6-7-13 over the next 30 games, which is more his career norm.

loserpoints: I think we know pretty well what Killorn is. He's a 25 primary point 5v5 player who will get up around 40 total points with decent power play time as long as he's in the top six. If he becomes a third liner, he's probably more of a 35ish point player depending on pp usage. The question is for how long and if a team with this much forward talent can really afford to pay at or slightly above market value for that production.

Achariya: I remember when giving people power play time was a sure way to kill their points totals, so at least we’re doing much better in that regard.

GeoFitz4: With Killorn’s usage so far, he's consistently been that 35-40 point player in his career.

iActium: Part of me thinks Yzerman will do everything he can to keep these players together for at least one more run.

GeoFitz4: 16.6666% of his goals, assists, and points in his career has come from the power play. It's interesting to compare to Johnson because we thought of him being such a great 5v5 scorer during the Triplets run... but over 25% of his goals and assists have come on the power play in his career. And 35% of Stamkos' point production comes from the power play. Kucherov is in a similar realm with about 25% of his goals and 35% of his assists coming from the power play in his career. This past season pushed Kucherov’s percentages higher.

Achariya: It really seemed like Killorn went though some big cold spells through the season.

GeoFitz4: Yeah, looking back through his season and his past seasons, he’s always been pretty streaky. The biggest different is that in previous seasons it was mostly score for three five games, take three or four games off, rinse and repeat. I believe his longest scoreless streak had been five, maybe six games. This season, he had multiple six+ game streaks without recording a point. While his points for the year ended up being close to his career norms, his consistency was troubling.

What is the best way to handle Ryan Callahan’s contract?

Callahan has three years left on his contract with a cap hit of $5,800,000 as well as a no-movement clause (NMC). The NMC means the Tampa Bay Lightning will be required to protect him in the upcoming Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft/

loserpoints: This seems like terrible asset management. Asking Callahan to waive his NMC is no risk to anyone and lets them protect another forward. If they lose Vladdy [Vladislav Namestnikov] because they didn't want to hurt Callahan's feelings, that's a pretty bad look for all involved. This of course assumes that they wouldn't expose Killorn instead of Vladdy. But based on Cooper's comments today, that seems unlikely.

JustinG.: Three more seasons of Long Term Injury Relief?

GeoFitz4: I think at this point, the team is still looking to get as much value as they can from the money they’ve already invested. It’s not likely they’re going to get out from under the contract without it costing them. Ideally, they’d want to wait at least another year before buying him out to ease the pain a little bit. At this point, if he can contribute 20-25 points again on the third line while being an excellent penalty killer, I’ll take it. And hopefully this latest hip surgery can get him back to his first year successes.

Achariya: Watch Callahan put up a career year in points just to prove us all wrong. Kind of like Valtteri Filppula did last season.

Tom: I’m not sure there’s a whole lot you can do. It’s an albatross of a contract with too much term on it for anyone to consider acquiring — unless you pay an exorbitant amount for another team to take it on. At this point it seems like Yzerman is going to have to hold on to Callahan and hope that he can contribute to the team, even if only as a badly overpaid bottom-6 winger.

What rookies will have breakout seasons?

Who do we think will stick with the team? Anthony Cirelli, Mitchell Stephens, Mathieu Joseph?

Sweden v Canada: Semifinal - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

GeoFitz4: For a breakout season at any level, I’ll take a forward and a defenseman. At forward, Boris Katchouk. He’s a very smart player, but he didn’t improve on his offensive totals much this season. The Lightning have already signed him to an entry level contract, but I expect him to have a break out offensive season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL.

JustinG: I’m putting my money on Brett Howden. Last season’s first round draft pick is going to take Vladdy’s place in the line-up (after the Russian Bieber moves to Vegas) by having an outstanding training camp. The momentum keeps going and he outpaces an otherwise weak rookie class to capture the first Calder Trophy in Lightning history.

GeoFitz4: Justin is going pretty bold on his prediction there. I think Cirelli or Stephens are more likely to break into the Lightning line up out of camp. Both play simple, responsible games and can contribute on the third line for the Lightning. Cirelli being in the line up for the Syracuse Crunch in the Calder Cup Finals is pretty telling of what the organization thinks of him. I think he’s the most likely to be the first to make the NHL.

Achariya: I miss Bokondji Imama. He would’ve been fantastic on the Crunch bottom six, but that team was too stacked to keep him. My money is on Cirelli, though. He’s got the kind of responsibility and leadership qualities that we all saw in Brayden Point — it just remains to be seen whether he lights up camp and keeps stubbornly clinging to the team like Point did.

Tom: The OHL ones. But really, I suspect Anthony Cirelli and Mitchell Stephens to be competing for a hole in the bottom-six next season. The two play a very similar style of game, though Stephens does so with a little more speed. Cirelli is a very smart player, and one of my all time favorite junior hockey players, but he is likely still a season away from making an impact in the NHL. A year in Syracuse would do both wonders but the smart, defensively responsible game that both play will definitely have Coach Cooper very impressed in training camp. I think that Anthony Cirelli will be the better pro hockey player, so if I had to choose one it would be him.

GeoFitz4: On the defensive side, I have Ryan Zuhlsdorf. Zuhlsdorf was a 5th round pick in the 2015 draft. He’s an offensive defenseman that didn’t get much of a chance to shine as a freshman for the University of Minnesota. Minnesota has lost their top scoring defenseman to graduation as well as one of their other top defenders to the professional ranks. Zuhlsdorf played on the third pair for most of the season and didn’t get much power play time. With the two upper class-men leaving, he’ll have an opportunity to get more minutes and maybe make some contributions on the power play.

What do you guys think?