Bolt Prospect of the Week: 3-19-13

For years, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect followers have pounded their fists in demand of a right-handed defenseman capable of impacting a game at both ends of the ice. They got their wish last June when the Bolts selected Brampton (OHL) defenseman Dylan Blujus in the second round (40th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft.

Blujus had just completed a 34-point season with the Battalion and was a prime candidate for a breakout season offensively in 2012-2013.

That hasn’t exactly happened for the young Amherst, New York, native, as he just finished his third OHL season with fewer goals and points than his second season despite playing more games. Not everything shows up on the stat sheet, obviously, and Blujus has further developed his physical game while playing big minutes for a defense-first club.

Blujus had a mini-breakout last week after a slow start to the 2013 calendar year. He had four points last week – all assists – to finish the year with 27 assists and 29 points for the season (68 games). The 6-3 rearguard had two assists on Thursday against Niagara, then had two more in the Battalion’s regular season finale against Peterborough on Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Battalion will face fifth-seeded Sudbury in the first round of the OHL playoffs starting this week and Blujus will be needed at both ends of the ice if Brampton is to advance.

Blujus projects as a sturdy, physical, two-way defenseman. He has another year in juniors before likely starting his pro career with his home state’s Syracuse Crunch in 2014-2015. If he can carry a strong 2013 playoffs into his 2013-2014 season and put up some numbers to go with his improved defensive play, it will go a long way to securing a contract from Tampa Bay next spring.

Honorable Mention: Vladislav Namestnikov, who had two multi-point games in an increased role with Syracuse, and Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, who both scored their first NHL goals this week.

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