The Tampa Bay Lightning have a number of prospects on the cusp of NHL stardom. None have garnered more attention than Cory Conacher of the Syracuse Crunch. There are some things you need to know about Conacher—if you don’t already—before he becomes a household name.
The Lightning have no shortage of offensive stars including Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Matt Carle. They may add another, especially now with the lockout over.
Conacher is a left winger who is playing for the Lightning’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse, but he might not be there long.
Here are five things you need to know about the next Lightning star.
Cory Conacher is proof that big things can come in small packages.
Weight: 180 pounds
Born: December 14, 1989 (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)
Undrafted out of Canisius College
After a season with Burlington of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, he went to Canisius College in the American Hockey Association.
At 5’8”, Conacher outplayed his size in college. He racked up a number of collegiate awards and accolades including:
- 2009-10 AHA Player of the Year
- Two-Time All-Atlantic Hockey selection
- 12 career single-season and single-game records
- Most career points in Canisius hockey history
- Only player in program history to have two 40-point seasons and two 20-point seasons.
For a complete list, visit his player profile on the Canisius website.
Despite going undrafted and being signed to a handful of minor-league deals, Conacher found his way to the Norfolk Admirals in 2011. Earning his first significant minutes of the minor leagues, he put together an 80-point campaign that helped the Admirals win the Calder Cup.
The team’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the league’s top rookie. Conacher was also named the 2010-11 Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award winner, given to the Rookie of the Year in the AHL.
This season the Syracuse Crunch are one of the best teams in the AHL (21-8-1-3), and Conacher is one of the team’s best scorers with 27 points in 33 games. He also has 56 penalty minutes.
Nothing seems to be slowing this guy down.
Scouting Report from TheHockeyNews.com:
Assets: Has tremendous offensive instincts, playmaking acumen and a lot of quickness. He's also deceptive on the ice and rather elusive. Is also willing to work the corners to make plays and is quite feisty.
Flaws: His general lack of size (5'8", 190 pounds) will always be a factor as long as he's toiling in the highest professional hockey ranks, especially since he doesn't back down from anyone.
Career Potential: Diminutive scoring winger with upside.
The next Martin St. Louis?
Cory Conacher will work his way into a spot in the Lightning lineup sooner rather than later. Many believe he would have been on the roster opening day, but there still hasn’t been an opening day. As Conacher told the the Lightning website:
Rather than being disappointed or anything like that, I think the situation with the NHL right now made me realize that I need to work a little harder, and that at least I’d be given the opportunity to play [in the AHL] and improve my game. So for now, I’m looking at continuing to take on a large role in Syracuse and helping that team succeed to show everyone in Tampa Bay that I’m capable of taking them to the top.
He seems to have the right mentality, but Lightning fans have to be growing impatient as they wait for this young star to make his mark.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie only added fuel to that when he said Conacher would be the Calder Trophy winner this season (via rawcharge.com), an award that goes to the NHL Rookie of the Year.
For now, fans wait and the Syracuse Crunch enjoy the extended time with this young gun. But he will be making a name for himself soon in the NHL.