The Tampa Bay Lightning have dipped into their farm system to help plug the holes in their line-up caused by their sudden run of injuries. Per a tweet from his agent, Alexander Volkov, in his third year of professional hockey, got the nod late Tuesday night and will join the team in New Jersey. This is the first call-up for the 22-year-old left-winger from Russia.
So, just what type of player are the Lightning bringing up? Volkov has gone from a rather obscure second round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft to one of their top prospects. Raw Charge ranked him 8th on our latest Top 25 Under 25 players in the organization based primarily on his production and consistency over his first two seasons with the Crunch.
His counting numbers are solid if not spectacular. In 152 games with the Crunch he’s posted 96 points (46 goals, 50 assists) with a 17.9% shooting percentage. Eight of his goals have come on the power play while two were shorthanded. He’s played on the top line, the bottom line, and all lines in between while also killing penalties and setting up shop on the second power play unit for Coach Ben Groulx.
Last season was a bit of a transition season for Volkov. While he ended up with similar offensive numbers as he had in his rookie year, a lot of that was a product of a late-season scoring spree. For most of the season he was focused on improving the defensive part of his game, spending a lot of time on the penalty kill and on the ice in close situations. He really rounded out his game and became one of Groulx’s go-to options late in games.
That versatility is the prime reason he was called up. It’s still up in the air as to how long Pat Maroon is going to be out of the line-up and Volkov will give Coach Cooper a player-much like Carter Verhaeghe - who can slot into any situation and not be overwhelmed. Chances are Volkov, if he gets into the line-up, will start on the fourth line playing eight or nine minutes a game. However, if he remains with Tampa Bay for any length of time, expect him to work his way onto the penalty kill and maybe a couple of even strength shifts with the top six.
There is nothing about his game that is overwhelmingly outstanding, he just get the job done. He has decent size (6’1”, 190 lbs) and quickness. While his shot isn’t a rocket on par with Steven Stamkos, it is sneaky quick and accurate.
Like most of the forwards the Lightning have developed over the last couple of years, he is defensively responsible, an excellent forechecker, and has the ability to anticipate and interrupt opponents breakout passes. He has primarily played on the left side during his time in Syracuse, but can play on the right as well.
It’s a well-deserved promotion for the Alexander Volkov and he has the chance to do what Erik Cernak did a year ago - take an opportunity and turn it into regular playing time.