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Tampa Bay Lightning prospects head into the playoffs

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The NCAA playoffs kick off tonight.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Aside from the OHL and QMJHL teams, the playoffs are here for the Lightning prospects. Today we’ll look at each prospect’s chances of the playoffs, and for the college kids, what their schedules look like for this weekend and how you can watch them.

Ontario Hockey League

Alexei Lipanov (F) - 59GP - 10G - 18A - 28Pts
X - Kitchener Rangers
33-29-3-1 / 5th in Western Conference

The Kitchener Rangers have locked in their spot and opponent for round one of the OHL playoffs next week, and it’s the Guelph Storm. This is one of my favorite playoff series as the two teams are in neighboring cities and just miles away from each other. The rinks are full with a mixed crowd of fans for both teams.

Lipanov has been on and off this year. Only 27 points in 58 games, a drop of 12 from last season. He may not have wanted to go back to junior for his overage year and the disappointment factored in. Last year he had 10 games with the Crunch, and if I were him, I’d be looking forward to another tryout in the AHL, rather than a quick defeat in round one.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

#9 - Gabriel Fortier (F) - 66GP - 33G - 48A - 81Pts
X - Baie-Comeau Drakkar
48-14-2-2 / 1st in Eastern Conference

The Drakkar will spend this weekend fighting to hold onto first place, as the second place Halifax Mooseheads are one point back and would love to go into their playoffs the #1 seed - proving the Memorial Cup hosts deserve to be in the tournament.

Fortier is having a great post-draft season, and with 80 points is third in team scoring. Nathan Légaré is second with 85, and Sharks 7th round pick Ivan Chekhovich leads with 101 points. Fortier has only played five QMJHL playoff games so far in his career, but this season should change all of that.

#41 - Radim Salda (D) / Jimmy Huntington (F)
46GP - 9G - 20A - 29Pts / 64GP - 39G - 50A - 89Pts
X - Rimouski Oceanic
43-19-4-0 / 3rd in Eastern Conference

The Oceanic are locked into the third-place seed in the QMJHL Eastern Conference, seven points behind second, and six ahead of fourth. Their opponent could be one of Charlottetown, Moncton, or Chicoutimi, all of whom will end the season with five to eight wins behind Rimouski.

For our players, new guy Jimmy is playing great as an overager with a top prospect on his line. If he can continue to play with Alexis Lafreniere through the playoffs, he’ll look good on the stat sheet ahead of turning pro next season. Salda is not an offensive defender. He’s 31st overall in QMJHL defender scoring, but he’s a player the Oceanic have relied on throughout the season and should continue through the post-season.


#18 - Ryan Lohin (F) - 30GP - 12G - 14A - 26Pts
U. Mass-Lowell River Hawks
Overall: 18-11-5 / Conference: 12-7-5

Hockey East Quarter Finals vs Boston University Terriers
Fri. March 15th - 7:15PM
Sat. March 16th - 7:00PM
Sun. March 17th (if necessary) - 4:00PM

You can stream the games here.

The River Hawks tied the season series 1-1, but were down 7-8 in goals. The two teams were close in the standings, with the River Hawks only going up by two points due to having two more ties than the Terriers, but the biggest gap was the River Hawks +10 goal differential to the Terriers -1.

Our boy Lohin lead Lowell in scoring this season, his 26 points were five ahead of the second highest scoring player on the team. The sophomore’s total is three points lower than his rookie season, but he got 26 in 30 games, rather than 29 in 41.

#20 - Ryan Zuhlsdorf (D) / #26 - Sammy Walker (F)
34GP - 1G - 7A - 8Pts / 36GP - 10G - 15A - 25Pts
U. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Overall: 18-15-4 / Conference: 11-10-3

Defeated Michigan 2-0 in Big10 Quarter Finals.
Game #1: 3-2 OT
Game #2: 4-1

Big10 Semi-final
Sat. March 16th: @ Notre Dame
You can stream the game here.

The Gophers got through the first round of the playoffs last weekend with relative ease. The first game was a nail biter, but game two was all Gophers, all the time. Tomorrow night, they’ll try to get into the finals by knocking out last year’s Big10 champions. After that. it’s Penn State or last year’s runners-up Ohio State.

Our Gophers have had good seasons. Sammy Walker with 25 points as a rookie gives me confidence that his high school prowess has carried over to college. If he keeps this up, he may be able to carry that over to the NHL. Zuhlsdorf has been steady offensively, keeping his point per game average roughly the same over his career.

#19 - Cole Guttman (F) - 34GP - 11G - 10A - 21Pts
U. Denver PIoneers
Overall: 19-10-5 / Conference: 11-10-3

NCHC Quarter-finals vs North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Game 1: Fri. March 15th @ 7PM
Game 2: Sat March 16th @ 7:08PM
Game 3: Sun March 17th (if necessary) @ 6:08PM

You can stream all games here.

The Pioneers have finished the season in the fourth seed in NCHC and will begin their quest for the championship against North Dakota at home. After that it’s off to St. Paul, Minnesota for NCHC Championship weekend. As above, these two teams finished with almost identical records, but the Fighting Hawks ended with a +1 goal differential, to the Pioneers’ -1. It’s going to be a close series.

Guttman’s freshman season shows he didn’t miss a beat after his extended absence last season on the USHL. He was a reliable player for the Pioneers and their fifth highest scoring player. This was a team that relied heavily on freshmen for scoring so this should be a team that does nothing but improve over the next few seasons.

#14 - Nicklaus Perbix (D) - 34GP - 5G - 15A - 20Pts
St. Cloud State Huskies
Overall: 27-4-3 / Conference: 19-2-3

NCHC Quarter-finals vs Miami University (Ohio, you know, the bad Miami)
Game 1: Fri. March 15 @ 7:07PM
Game 2: Sat. March 16 @ 6:07PM
Game 3: Sun March 17 (if necessary) @ 6:07PM

You can stream the games here.

The Huskies finished the season in first place with a large gap between them and second. They had a +42 goal differential, and will play Miami (Ohio) in the first round of the playoffs, and Miami had only five NCHC wins all season. If anyone but the Huskies win the NCHC title this year, it will be an upset.

The Lightning have a good crop of college rookies this year and Perbix continues that with his 20 point campaign. He’s in the top 10 in team scoring, and he’ll be looked at to provide more points from the back end through the playoffs.

Alex Green (D) - 13GP - 0G - 3A - 3Pts
Cornell Big Red
Overall: 17-8-4 / Conference: 13-5-4

ECAC Quarter-finals vs Union College
Game 1: Fri March 15th @ 7:00PM
Game 2: Sat March 16th @ 7:00PM
Game 3: Sun March 17th (if necessary) @ 4:00PM

You can stream the games here.

Cornell continued the Lightning prospect success as they finished with the second seed in the ECAC standings and a +25 goal differential. Union is a good opponent, they finished with an even 10-10-2 conference record. They scored over 100 goals this season, but they’re an offense first team, letting in almost 100 goals themselves.

Alex Green didn’t play a lot of games this season, and a long playoff run will give him more of a chance to show off his skills.

Cole Koepke (F) - 34GP - 4G - 10A - 14Pts
U. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Overall: 21-11-2 / Conference: 14-9-1

NCHC Quarter-finals vs Omaha
Game 1: Fri. March 15 @ 7:07PM
Game 2: Sat. March 16 @ 6:07PM

You can stream the games here.

UMD was second in NCHC, just behind St. Cloud State. Their opponent, Omaha, is bad. 5 wins, -40 goal differential, it’s such a lock the Bulldogs don’t even list the possible game three of the series on their website.

Koepke is a different freshman than the other Bolts rookies, as he isn’t a showboat on the stats page. 14 points are a good start, but he won’t be keeping up with the other this season.

Ty Taylor (G) - 7GP - 3.82GAA - .853sv%
U. New Hampshire Wildcats
Overall: 12-13-9 / Conference: 8-10-6

Hockey East quarter-finals vs U. Massachusetts

Game 1: Fri March 15th @ 7:00PM
Game 2: Sat March 16th @ 7:00PM
Game 3: Sun March 17th (if necessary) @ 7:00PM

You can stream the games here.

The Wildcats...well they’ll have a couple playoff games. They finished as the 8th seed in Hockey East and will take on 1st place U. Mass. UNH finished with 8 wins, U. Mass 18. UNH had 55 goals score, U. Mass 92. You can see how this will go.

Taylor played just seven games this season, backing up Mike Robinson and he’ll continue to do so through the playoffs.

Some of these players will move on after this weekend to their respective playoffs. Some may join the Crunch on ATO’s. Most won’t because the NCAA has silly rules.

We’ll check in on Monday to see who is moving on, and what the Canadian junior players playoffs look like.