NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have emphasized improving their organizational depth on defense, and two defensemen made this list of their top five prospects. Mikhail Sergachev could help the Lightning immediately, and Callan Foote appears to be a part of Tampa Bay's plans for 2020-21 and beyond.
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Here are the Lightning's top five prospects, according to NHL.com:
1. Mikhail Sergachev, D
How acquired: Trade from Montreal Canadiens on June 15
Last season: Montreal (NHL): 4 GP, 0-0-0; Windsor (OHL): 50 GP, 10-33-43
Sergachev, 19, the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, broke training camp with the Canadiens last season but was sent back to his junior team after four games. He won the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding defenseman in 2015-16 and helped Windsor to the Memorial Cup championship last season.
Sergachev (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) is a smooth but powerful skater with the ability to move the puck and has a strong, accurate shot. He has a great chance of earning a roster spot out of training camp.
Projected NHL arrival: This season
2. Brett Howden, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 27 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: Syracuse (AHL): 5 GP, 3-1-4; Moose Jaw (WHL): 58 GP, 38-43-81
Howden, 19, continued to progress nicely in juniors and got the attention of the Lightning when he scored three goals in five games for Syracuse after his season with Moose Jaw ended.
Howden (6-2, 193) has gotten bigger and made significant improvements in his skating in the past 12 months. He gets high marks from Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx and Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest for his ability to play center or either wing and his commitment to playing each end of the ice.
Projected NHL arrival: Next season
3. Taylor Raddysh, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 58 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: Erie (OHL): 58 GP, 42-67-109
Raddysh, 19, enjoyed a breakout season and showed a natural scoring touch in helping Erie to the Memorial Cup final. Raddysh (6-2, 207) likes to play a big man's game and wear down his opponents with his size and strength.
Raddysh scored four goals in one game during the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship to become the fourth Canada player to accomplish the feat in that tournament, joining Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagne and Brayden Schenn.
Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20
4. Anthony Cirelli, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 72 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Oshawa (OHL): 26 GP, 13-21-34; Erie (OHL): 25 GP, 12-18-30
Cirelli, 20, made a name for himself in juniors in 2015, when his overtime goal won the Memorial Cup for Oshawa. He has continued to build on that experience and was exceptional for Erie in the OHL playoffs last season with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 22 games to power Erie's run to the Memorial Cup final.
Cirelli (6-0, 180) plays the full 200 feet and honors his responsibilities on defense but has expanded his creativity on offense. He will be a player to watch in Syracuse this season.
Projected NHL arrival: Next season
5. Callan Foote, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 14 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: Kelowna (WHL): 71 GP, 6-51-57
The first thing that stands out about Foote, 18, is his size (6-4, 212), including his size-16 skate. Foote's father, Adam, played 20 seasons in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup twice with the Colorado Avalanche.
Though father and son are similar in size, their games couldn't be much different. The elder Foote was a physical, stay-at-home defenseman described as "mean" by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, and the younger is a puck-moving defenseman who can contribute on the offensive end.
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21
Video: Lightning draft D Callan Foote No. 14