Alex Walworth | The Scrum
The mostly unexpected ascension of Nicklaus Perbix into the Tampa Bay Lightning top four pushes others down the depth chart. How did this happen? Where did he come from? Where is such and such defenseman? The answers are here.
2022-23 season recap
At time of writing, the Bolts have played just 35 contests out of the 82-game regular season. We are witnessing Perbix, a rookie, score at the third best rate for a defenseman on the team. He hasn’t even played all 35 as he didn’t technically make the team out of camp. Perbix had about just as long of a preseason as he could have had. First, was the 3v3 Lightning prospect tournament in Brandon. Second, was the prospect tournament against other teams in the Southeast US. Then there was the Lightning’s training camp. The preseason following that. Tampa cut him late. A little later than I expected. Perbix joined the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, at the tail end of their training camp. Playing his first two games of the season there.
The road to Tampa Bay
One minor injury and one random sexual assault claim and he gets the nod to come back to Tampa. He jumped into the top four playing alongside Mikhail Sergachev. That was a bit of a surprise too. He did begin his career with Syracuse similarly at the end of last season. In 29 games, Nicklaus Perbix has scored three times and had eight helpers. The investigation into the sexual assault claim concluded. Finding no supporting evidence and thus Ian Cole was permitted to return to the Lightning’s lineup. Aside from a separate minor injury to Victor Hedman and Zach Bogosian who was out, everyone has been healthy. Yet number 48 has remained in the nightly lineup. Instead, off-season acquisition Haydn Fleury has sat as has off-season signing Philippe Myers(and been reassigned to the Syracuse Crunch). Now, he has leap frogged several more professionally seasoned players such as Trevor Carrick, Sean Day, Darren Raddysh, Philippe Myers, Haydn Fleury, and Cal Foote to an extent to play in the NHL sooner and at more time on ice than I would have predicted.
Most of this player profile is going to be quoting my previous article where I listed Nick Perbix as the number three defense star of the 3v3 tournament. Those quotes about Perbix are: “The oldest man at the Lightning’s development camp took the college route out of high school (minus a year in the USHL) and Tampa has waited for him since they drafted him in the sixth round of the NHL Entry Draft back in 2017.”,” When his final season of college hockey concluded towards the end of last season, he joined the Syracuse Crunch’s top four to conclude their season and to begin his professional career. Scoring eight points in 12 games and one in five playoff games with a plus three rating despite Syracuse being eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoffs is quite encouraging.”,” His senior year in high school and college, including playoffs, he produced points at a point per game or better. The NCAA is viewed as a more defense-oriented league compared to some other leagues, making it all the more impressive. “and finally, “He even got into four recent Olympic games playing for the USA recording one assist and a plus three rating.”
When an NHL clubs signs(and extends) one of their college prospects after graduating they see NHL action sooner rather than later. They are older than prospects finishing up in juniors. The college game has more of a defensive mindset in comparison and they get a few more years of experience before joining the professional ranks. College play is a step up from the CHL in that aspect and not quite as far off from AHL level action as with junior players.
It is a bit harder to keep up with college prospects as they cannot be signed until college is over unlike the CHL where they can be signed by an NHL franchise, such as the Lightning, while playing for their junior team. For example, Bolts prospect Roman Schmidt. College prospects also have to pay their way to attend an NHL club’s development camp and can spend no further time with the club, say preseason etc. So, college prospects sneak up on people a little because things are up in the air as far as signing and time played directly under fan observance.
Eliteprospects.com projected Nick Perbix to achieve 79 games played with an even 14 goals, 14 assists for 28 points for Tampa this season(after his first 10 games played). These totals have dropped ever so slightly over his next 20 games. Foote and Myers were projected at eight and 11 which Myers will not hit while playing in the AHL. That 28 point mark exceeds almost everything Zach Bogosian has managed except for his career-high in the 2012-13 season where he managed five goals and 30 points. With Bogosian having returned from injury, it was inevitable that someone would have needed to be assigned to Syracuse. That player could have been Perbix because he is the only defenseman who did not have to clear waivers. Myers was chosen instead which makes sense as he was waived previously for cap compliance.
Either way, I expected Perbix to get a contract extension for next season. Now he has it. Not just for next year either, the year after as well for an AAV of $1.125 million. That sets him up to be in the top four for the next two years while Ian Cole, Zach Bogosian, Cal Foote, and Haydn Fleury’s current contracts will all be up before then.
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