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Sports Illustrated ranks Bolts farm system fourth best in NHL

by Andrew DeWitt / Tampa Bay Lightning recently ranked the top five farm systems in the NHL and the Lightning ranked No. 4 on Allan Muir's list.

The Sabres ranked No. 1 on Muir's list thanks to three first round picks Sam Reinhart (2014), Rasmus Ristolainen (2013) and Nikita Zadorov (2013). Each could play for Buffalo this season.

Here's what Muir had to say about the Bolts farm system.

Strengths: A system that just graduated two of the three Calder Trophy finalists shouldn't have this much left to offer, but the Bolts still have plenty in the tank. Their system is highlighted by arguably the most exciting prospect in the game -- 2013 CHL Player of the Year Jonathan Drouin. He projects as a first-line winger with game-breaking skill. There's also solid skill available to fill depth roles at forward, including Adam Erne, Henri Ikonen and Vladislav Namestnikov. Brayden Point is a speedy forward with some grit and offensive touch who could surprise as a mid-round pick (79th, 2014). Tampa Bay also boasts one of the top goaltending prospects in Andrey Vasilevskiy, and a very intriguing option in Latvian Olympian Kristers Gudlevskis. Neither is close to making the roster, but with Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop under contract, they can take their time percolating in the KHL/minors.

Question marks: Defense was an issue coming into this year's draft, and it may still be, but GM Steve Yzerman did grab the most skilled blueliner available in Anthony DeAngelo. His disciplinary issues make him a risky pick, but if the organization can get his head on straight, DeAngelo could be the first pair/first power play prospect that the Lightning's system has been missing. Slater Koekkoek (10th, ’12) has the potential to join him, but recurring shoulder problems are an issue. Dominik Masin (35th, ’14) is a solid defensive defenseman, but he's several years away.

Top 10 prospects: 1. LW Jonathan Drouin; 2. G Andrei Vasilevskiy; 3. C Vladislav Namestnikov; 4. D Anthony DeAngelo; 5. D Slater Koekkoek; 6. RW Adam Erne; 7. G Kristers Gudlevskis; 8. LW/C Henri Ikonen; 9. C Brayden Point; 10. D Dominik Masin

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