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Quick Strikes: Lots of love for Nikita Kucherov and World Juniors Camp Updates

Alexei Lipanov is out, Sammy Walker is in

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Joe Smith at The Athletic (paywalled) talked with Eddie Pasquale’s family about his amazing night winning a game in Detroit for the Lightning.

Pasquale’s family had made the four-hour drive to Detroit from his hometown of Toronto. The group included his parents, Stephen and Jane, and fiancée Brittany, who joked that half of her home province of Newfoundland was watching.

Former Thrashers exec Rick Dudley, who drafted Pasquale in the fourth round in 2009, kept track of the game on his computer from Buffalo, where he was scouting a game for Carolina.

Jared Clinton at The Hockey News makes the argument that even though Steven Stamkos is the captain, the Lightning are actually Nikita Kucherov’s team.

The transfer of ownership has been underway for a few seasons now, beginning back during the 2016-17 campaign. That season, as Kucherov skated the first of a three-year bridge deal with a sizeable chip on his shoulder, you could see it starting to happen. With Stamkos sidelined for much of the season — he played just 17 games as the result of a knee injury — Kucherov took the reins. He led the attack with a breakout 40-goal, 85-point season, and that’s when the debate about whose team the Lightning really were began to take hold.

The Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point tandem has been dominant since head coach Jon Cooper put them together. Joe dove into what makes them tick at The Athletic (paywalled).

“Magic” may be an understatement at this point for Point and Kucherov, two All-Stars and linemates who are at the top of their games, along with not-to-be-forgotten Tyler Johnson. In their last 10 games, Kucherov (five goals, 19 assists) and Point (11 goals, seven assists) have combined for 42 points.

The two say how much they enjoy playing together: Kucherov appreciates Point’s speed, while Point says Kucherov might see the ice as well as anyone in the game. “He’s easy to play with,” Point said.

The Prospects

Michael Bournival will be out long term again for the Syracuse Crunch. He’s had terrible injury luck during his career and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Once a player with a legitimate NHL future, he’s now missed so much time it seems like he’d be fortunate to get back to being a contributor in the AHL.

Crunch coach Ben Groulx fought back emotions while discussing the injury on Tuesday.

”It’s a lot of frustration for him, for us, for his teammates,’’ Groulx said. “He’s been working so hard to get back. And now, another bad luck. It’s unfortunate, when you know the individual. He’s a great guy, he’s a great leader, a great example for our team. And now his season is compromised. It’s tough news for everyone.’’

More teams announced their invites to World Juniors camp yesterday. After Gabriel Fortier was left off of Canada’s list, the Lightning got two more surprises about their prospects. First, Alexei Lipanov didn’t make it for Russia. And then Sammy Walker did get an invite for the United States.

Lauren covered the Fortier snub(?) for us yesterday.

Fortier, the 5’10” smooth-skating left winger, has been off to a fast start with the Drakkar this season, racking up 34 points in 29 games. As he wasn’t named to Canada’s roster for the World Juniors Summer Showcase, the defense-first Fortier was probably not on Team Canada’s radar as a possible team member. However, his offensive production once the season began warranted an appearance on the QMJHL’s roster for the Canada-Russia series, which served as his best chance to impress the Canadian management group.

As for Lipanov, look for more coverage on him later today. But any way you look at it, this is a step back for him. He was once considered a lock for these types of tournaments for Russia but his underwhelming play both in the CHL and in international events put him in a spot where he’s not even getting an invite to camp.

Walker is headed in the opposite directions. A seventh-round pick who was an afterthought during his draft year, he’s now emerging as one of the most fun prospects in the Lightning system. He still has lots of room to grow (literally and figuratively) but he’s making some noise and starting to look like another late round gem for Al Murray and the rest of the scouting staff.

The Game

Caley Chelios is doing a great job covering the Lightning. Joe talked with her about her career path and the increasing number of women who are involved in NHL broadcasting.

It was largely unheard of a decade or two ago, but you’re now seeing a well-deserved bump in opportunities for women in professional hockey broadcasting. Women have followed the lead of trailblazers like Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson and Cassie Campbell-Pascall and NBC’s Cammi Granato and Kathryn Tappen. There’s Mleczko and Jennifer Botterill now on Islanders broadcasts, and Campbell is doing color in Calgary. Leah Hextall was a finalist for a radio play-by-play gig with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

The Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins made an AHL trade.

The Ottawa Senators (@Senators) announced today that the club has acquired defenceman Stefan Elliott and forward Tobias Lindberg from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenceman Macoy Erkamps and forward Ben Sexton. Both Elliott and Lindberg will report to the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Belleville Senators.

The next big hockey analytics conference will be in Seattle next spring.

Date: March 8nd to 10th, 2019

Location: University District, Seattle, WA, United States

Website: (TBA)

The Call for Presentations is currently open with a deadline of January 31th, 2018. See the website for more details or go here to submit your talk. We will once again be holding a session for Lightning Talks, which are informal 5 minute presentations. You do not need to submit a full abstract if you’d like to do a lightning talk but keep your eye on the event page for information and sign-ups closer to the date of the event.

Cap Friendly introduced a cool new tool that makes it much easier to search for trades.