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Sep 21, 2020
Tampa Bay Lightning
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The Lightning have recently inked goaltenders Hugo Alnefelt and Amir Miftakhov to 3 year entry level deals, likely satisfying our in-house goalie prospect needs for the next 3-5 years. NCAA prospect LW Cole Koepke signed his 2 year ELC a few weeks ago, and we signed C/RW Odeen Tufto as a free agent out of NCAA to a 1 year ELC around the same time. Looking forward, here's who's left I think we can expect to officially join the organization with an ELC starting next season:
<strong>RW Maxim Cajkovic</strong>
Currently in the QMJHL, Cajkovic's signing rights expire this summer. He's a decent playmaking winger who would add a much needed right-handed forward to our prospect group.
<strong>LD Quinn Schmiemann</strong>
Like Cajkovic, Schmiemann's signing rights expire this summer as well. Schmiemann is kind of all by himself as a LD prospect in our system since we've neglected drafting the position with Hedman, McDonagh, and Sergachev having the left side locked down in the NHL. I think given time he'll give us flexibility to either buyout or retain on McDonagh's contract if we get to a point where we cannot make him fit under the cap. Schmiemann's WHL season is ongoing, and will probably sign at it's conclusion.
<strong>LW Jaydon Dureau</strong>
Dureau probably has less upside than Cajkovic, but he's still scoring around a point per game in the WHL. He was drafted as an overager last draft, so, he'll have another year before his signing rights expire. He will be AHL eligible if the Lightning want to sign him, and I expect they will.
<strong>LW Mikhail Shalagin</strong>
Shalagin already tried North American hockey last year in Orlando, but did not have a good season. However, amid the pandemic he stayed in Russia and put together a solid season. He would only be eligible for a 2 year ELC, making it less risky than a 3 year if he were to look out of place again. Shalagin is probably the least likely to sign or be offered a contract of the possible ELC group mentioned thus far.
<strong>RD Jack Thompson</strong>
Thompson will not be AHL eligible and will not be stealing a roster spot on the Lightning next year. However, occasionally players are signed to ELCs early. His OHL season never happened this year, and I believe he's currently with Syracuse on a ATO. He hasn't played a game for them, but I imagine Lightning development staff are getting a good look at him during practices. I don't think he'll be offered a contract, but maybe he will be.
Now, as for those who aren't expected to sign ELCs:
<strong>NCAA Juniors and Seniors</strong>
The NCAA season has been over with for around a month. If any of them were turning pro, we'd probably have heard by now. C Sammy Walker and RD Nick Perbix I believe have both indicated that they intend to return as seniors, RD Maxwell Crozier I don't believe is worth an ELC at this point, and I haven't heard anything on C/RW Cole Guttman.
Our group of rising sophomores does not include anyone like Florida's Spencer Knight, who immediately played NHL games after his freshman year. This group includes RW Nick Capone, RD Eamon Powell, and C Mckade Webster. They should all return to college next season.
<strong>RW Declan McDonnell</strong>
McDonnell has played quite a few games with Syracuse this year, but is only there as a result of the OHL season never starting. He won't be AHL eligible next season, and he hasn't shown enough upside IMO to be worth an ELC. He's a hard worker on the ice though, so hopefully this season's AHL experience will boost his development.