It’s the middle of October. Normally we would be enjoying the first week or two of hockey. There would have been a banner raising ceremony, jerseys of new players purchased, and an overall excitement over the dawn of a new season. During this new normal there is no hockey in October. At least not in the NHL or AHL.
Believe it or not, there is still hockey being played and some Tampa Bay Lightning prospects are involved. Seven skaters and three goaltenders have their seasons underway around the world. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing.
Maxim Groshev: Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL)
11 games, 0 goals, 1 assist
One of the intriguing picks in the most recent draft for the Lightning the 18-year-old is adjusting to life in one of the toughest leagues in the world. He played 36 games in the KHL last season and picked up 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists). At 6’2, 187 lbs he has the size to compete among the older players in the league and should have the skill to put up some goals.
Gabriel Fortier: Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist
Ok. So I kind of cheated here. Yes, Fortier had played some games, but as of right now Moncton is on hold as COVID is ripping through the QMJHL. This is the last season for the Lightning’s 2018 second round pick in the “Q” and he’s expected to be a leader for a team in transition. Could he be loaned to a European team if the league shuts down? Possibly.
Mikhail Shalagin: Khimik Voskresensk (VHL)
2 games, 1 goal, 0 assists
It was a bit of a surprise last year when Shalagin went to North America. He played 41 games for Orlando after signing a one-year AHL contract. With the lower leagues in doubt this season he went back to Russia and is playing in the VHL, the second tier league. After missing the beginning of the season with an injury he scored his first goal of the season and then added a familiar looking goal in the shootout.
Mikhail Shalagin (TBL) with a shootout goal that kind of reminds me of another Russian winger from the Lightning#Lightning | #VHL pic.twitter.com/lpWEevtzWj— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) October 14, 2020
Maxim Cajkovic - Bratislava Capitals (ICEHL)
2 games, 0 goals, 1 assist
It’s been an interesting year for Cajkovic. After racking up 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) with the Saint John Seadogs in 2019-20 he was traded Val-d’Or in the summer. Instead of starting the season in the QMJHL he was loaned to Bratislava in the Austrian professional league. He may stay over there for the season if things continue to look questionable in the “Q”.
Andreas Borgman: Assat (Liiga)
5 games, 1 goal, 2 assists
The big defenseman is one of the few new faces in the organization this year as he was signed to a two-way deal in order to provide a little depth at the blueline. He’s played as advertised so far in the Finnish league with 3 points and 12 penalty minutes in 5 games. He does have a shot to make the Lightning when the NHL fires back up so getting playing time now could give him an advantage locking down that 6th/7th spot on the blueline when training camp starts.
Radim Salda: HK Hradec Kralove (Czech)
5 games, 0 goals, 0 assists
Another prospect who is currently on hold due to COVID. Approximately half of Salda’s team tested positive at the beginning of October and the team has been in quarantine. They are hoping to be training at some time next week and then resume play by the end of the month.
Dominik Masin: Amur Khabarovsk (KHL)
4 games, 0 goals, 3 assists
Masin was one of the first prospects to head overseas as reports came out during The Pause that he was heading to the KHL. He’s picked up three assists in just four games which is pretty impressive for the normally low-scoring, stay-at-home defenseman. He is currently an unsigned RFA with the Lightning and it is possible he stays in the KHL this season if he feels his progress is stalled in the Tampa organization.
Amir Miftakhov: Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
1 game (1-0), 1.000 SV%, 0.00 GAA
The newest goaltender in the fold, Miftakhov made his KHL season debut for Ak Bars Kazan the other day and pitched a shutout, stopping all 23 shots that he faced. It will be a fight for playing time for the 20-year-old as four different netminders have already played for them in just seventeen games this season.
Hugo Alnefelt - HV71 (SHL)
2 games (0-2) .840 SV%, 4.08 GAA
Perhaps the top goaltending prospect in the system, Alnefelt is still just 19-years-old and experiencing his second season in the SHL. While he’s off to a bit of a slow start this season (as is the whole team) he acquitted himself well last season. With another strong season he could find himself in Syracuse next year.
Vasili Koshechkin - Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
8 games (3-2-1), .931 SV%, 1.88 GAA
He’s 37-years-old. He’s been one of the best goaltenders in the KHL for the past decade. The Lightning drafted him way back in 2002 and still hold his rights. He’s probably never coming over to the NHL, but he’s put up a heck of a career that includes 2 Gargarin Cup titles, 1 Olympic Gold Medal, and 3 World Championship medals (a gold, silver, and bronze) and over 260 wins in the KHL.