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Lightning Round: Top 25 Under 25 Week 2 Recap

News on salary cap relief this season and next.

NHL: SEP 22 Preseason - Predators at Lightning
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Tampa Bay Lightning center Otto Somppi (42) and Nashville Predators center Emil Pettersson (65) battle for the puck in the first period of the NHL preseason game between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning on September 22, 2018, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Friday everyone! With prospect tournaments, new rules, and training camps on the horizon, the NHL season is quickly dawning on us. At the site, we are making our way through the Top 25 Under 25 prospect ranking and #14 is going to be released today. Like last week, I wanted to do a quick recap of past week of articles and my thoughts on them.

The Rankings So Far

25. Nicklaus Perbix

24. Jack Thompson

23. Dylan Duke

22. Declan McDonnell

21. Simon Ryfors

20. Jack Finley

19. Otto Somppi

18. Amir Miftakhov

17. Eamon Powell

16. Maxim Cajkovic

15. Maxim Groshev

Looking at Somppi, Miftakhov, Powell, Cajkovic, and Groshev, there’s a nice list of prospects here.

Somppi is the first name that jumps out at me since he’s become a very respectable 1C on the Syracuse Crunch after a few years of development there. Among the list, he’s most likely to succeed at playing in the NHL based on his proximity to the league already and his developed potential as a depth center. Whether he can build on last season and earn himself a chance in the next year or two is the only question. I like his skating, his passing and vision, and his work ethic is on par with the players currently expected to fight for jobs in camp. He’s positionally sound defensively and plays both special teams, he’s got all the tools.

I’ll talk about Cajkovic next because he had a season in flames last year. We know about the attitude issues, namely his recklessness and getting kicked off the Czech WJC roster because he needlessly injured a teammate in training camp. As Igor writes in the article, Cajkovic was basically kicked out of Europe, deemed not ready for the Crunch, and played in the QMJHL. The thing about Cajkovic is that he’s talented, but it’s almost impossible to contain and manage him for a full season. Talent can only get you so far, because if an NHL coach has to pick from the talented, unreliable jerk to deal with vs a less talented guy who’ll do what the coach says, they’re picking the second option. He’s the Crunch’s problem now, hopefully they can manage the situation. I had Cajkovic unranked, for the record.

I wrote the Powell article for this series and it really felt like a part two from my post on him last summer. In 2020, I spent a lot of time pointing out Powell’s strengths and what makes him a special, interesting prospect. In 2021, I tried to provide the increased context we have on him after a season at Boston College. He’s a very good passer and has vision on the ice, but he struggles to move his feet sometimes. As a rookie, he put up some good points, but in order to get into the “real boy” tier of NCAA prospects, he needs a little more — especially on a high-scoring Boston team. At this point, we know what Powell’s tools are. The question is what can he do with them.

I often struggle to say much about goalies other than look at their save percentage and go yay or nay. With Miftakhov, that’s about all I got. I think Igor did a fantastic write-up on him, so definitely read that if you want to get a full picture on who our goalie prospect is. With Hugo Alnefelt coming to the Crunch, Miftakhov looks like he’s going to be on the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears. He should have fun in that league, I think it’ll suit him.

And last, Groshev. The Lightning picked a KHL grinder with little to no offense in the third round, and that’s what he has been for the last couple seasons. While it is impressive that he was in the KHL at 18, it’s important to understand why. Being a big player who had already filled out quite a bit by the time he was 18, he was able to hold his own in the KHL. But that was his growth spurt and he’s likely not going to make another big step physically. Maybe he’ll start to get more to do on SKA as he gets older, but I don’t think it’ll be as a result of his talent forcing them to play him in scoring situations. I think the best result the Lightning can hope for is Groshev turning into a good complimentary forward that can ride along a good duo of forwards, and crash and bang the puck whenever needed.

We have a new comments system, so tell me what you think of these prospects and what you think of the new comments system below!

Lightning Links

Some news on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for NHL players. Those who refuse will be suspended without pay and the team will get cap relief from it.

After having lost both Spencer Martin (VAN) and Christopher Gibson (FLA), the Lightning probably need to sign another depth goalie or pick one up off waivers. Going into the season with Maxime Lagace and two rookies is not ideal.

The salary cap is expected to rise a bit next season (this is for 2022-23), there is going to be a formal report on the Evander Kane gambling on games issue (they chose not to look at everything else going to hell in a handbasket around him), and the NHL is probably hoping we don’t notice when they tuck away the Chicago sexual assault scandal and never talk about it again.

Poor Nathan MacKinnon, he just wanted a less carb-y pasta and now everyone thinks he exclusively filter-feeds plankton on the seafloor and doesn’t eat anything else.

Canadian Lightning fans will get to watch Jack Finley and the other prospects on CBC this season.