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Lightning Prospects getting their Props Written by Laci Bloomers - April 29th, 2010

In two short seasons, the Tampa bay Lightning have gone from a team without any future in their system to a team with budding stars.

A trio of Lightning prospects have shown this season that they will be a force in the future, adding to an organization that has enjoyed success on the ice this regular season.

While the entire farm system has been fantastic this year, three future Lighting have stood out, with others not far behind.

Jordan Eberle, young forwarded targetted by T-Bay Gm Normoyle until he finally got his man earlier this season, has just been named the WHL Player of the Year.  One of the best young clutch forwards in hockey, the Regina Pat star is a proven goal scorer who is likely NHL ready and should debut in the 2010-11 season.

Joining Eberle with WHL accolades is blueliner Michael Stone.  The All-Star Calgary Hitmen d-man is looking to repeat the success of Lightning defenseman Karl Alzner as the WHL Defenseman of the Year.

Adding to the scoring punch in the system is speedster Brandon Kozun, also of the Hitmen.  Kozun did something this season was accomplished by fellow Lightning prospect Tyson Barrie's father in 1989 - he won the WHL scoring title.  Kozun finished the season with 5 points in the final game to edge Eberle out for the scoring title.  He currently leads the WHL in playoff scoring as well, and is showing that despite his small stature, he can play the game with the elite.

Speaking of Tyson Barrie, he's no slouch either.  Barrie finished off his WHL season in Kelowna with 72 points in 63 games.  The blueliner chalked up 19 goals, two behind Stone.

Michael Backlund is another player in the wings.  Called up to the NHL late in the season, Backlund was the best player on the ice in several games, and is also ready for the jump to the ICHF's Macon Whoopee next season.

Ryan Bourque would fall into an honorable mentions category, having scored better than a point per game in the QMJHL in his first season after moving from college hockey this past season.  We all saw in the WJHC how good this young man is.

The pleasant thing for the Lightning is that they only have to make decisions on two players this summer in terms of pro contracts.  Backlund will be a no brainer, but the other player creates an interesting dilemma.  Kristofer Westblom, who starred in the WHL through the 07-08 season, has been playing college hockey in eastern Canada since, and the goaltender's future concerning hockey are still up in the air.  With a glut of goaltenders on the farm, he may be cut loose this summer.

With the Whoopee breaking the 100 point barrier this season, and a prospect list as talented as this, the future looks good in Tampa.

- Laci Bloomers reporting -


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