Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said there's no time like the present to give a few of his team's best minor-league and junior prospects a chance in the NHL.

"I just believe we have a few guys [in the system] who have played two and three years in the minors who have really excelled at the AHL level" Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times. "It's time to give them an opportunity to play in the NHL. We've got to find out if they can play and based on what I saw in the limited time I saw them I'm cautiously optimistic that they're going to be good players."

There were a few prospects raising eyebrows last year when given a chance with the team during the 2012-13 season including Cory Conacher Alex Killorn Radko Gudas Mark Barberio Richard Panik and Tyler Johnson.

Conacher was traded to the Ottawa Senators in the deal that landed goalie Ben Bishop. Panik Killorn and Gudas got lengthy look-sees. But there are several other youngsters vying for positions with the Lightning this season most notably Jonathan Drouin the third player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Here are Tampa Bay's top 10 prospects according to NHL.com:

1. Jonathan Drouin LW: Drouin 18 was recognized as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League's most valuable player in 2012-13 after scoring 41 goals and 105 points for the Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads.

"Jonathan has a special compete level and a special skill set that you very rarely see come along" Tampa Bay director of amateur scouting Al Murray said. "If any of the fans are watching the YouTube videos of Jonathan the thing they should really keep in mind is that the best part of his game is his playmaking and not his individual 1-on-1 goal scoring. He's very unselfish and sees the ice really well and really is a complete forward."

The Lightning are listing Drouin on their NHL roster rather than among their prospects. At 5-foot-11 186 pounds he'll have to get bigger and stronger in order to handle the grind of an NHL season but there's no doubt that skills-wise he's ready to play.

2. Andrey Vasilevskiy G: The 6-foot-3 210-pound left-hander had another stellar season with Ufa's junior team in Russia during the 2012-13 season posting a 1.93 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 27 games. In eight games with Ufa's team in the Kontinental Hockey League he was 4-1-0 with a 2.22 GAA and .924 save percentage. The 19-year-old helped Russia earn a bronze medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa finishing with a 1.81 GAA and .950 save percentage in four games.

Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay's first-round pick (No. 19) in the 2012 NHL Draft has one year left on his contract in Russia but there is a buyout clause. Should he opt to play in North America he would have a year of junior eligibility remaining (his rights are held by the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League) but the Lightning might send him to Syracuse in the American Hockey League.

"This guy is a terrific prospect" Murray told the Tampa Bay Times. "I haven't seen a goalie in my time scouting in 20 years as developed at this stage of his development. We're hoping he can get out of [the contract] and come over. He's right on the cusp of pushing his game to a whole other level; we're just not sure where that's going to be."

3. Nikita Kucherov RW: The 2011 second-round choice (No. 58) had a sensational debut season in North America in 2012-13 scoring 26 goals and finishing with 53 points in 27 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. The 20-year-old added nine goals and 24 points in 14 playoff games. At the 2013 World Junior Championship Kucherov (5-11 171) had five goals and eight points in seven games to help Russia win the bronze medal.

"He's a really gifted player and getting stronger and stronger" Lightning development coach Stacy Roest told NHL.com. "He has good vision out there and makes plays not many people can make and it's pretty impressive to watch a player that young make those plays. He put up some big numbers in the [QMJHL] and we're hoping he can carry that over to the pros."

4. Ondrej Palat LW: The 5-11 174-pound wing could turn out to be the steal of the 2011 NHL Draft. The seventh-round pick (No. 208) will be vying for a roster spot at training camp after scoring 13 goals and putting up 52 points in 56 games with Syracuse. Palat 22 led AHL scorers in the playoffs with 19 assists and 26 points.

"He works hard at both ends" Roest said. "He kills penalties blocks shots and can play the power play. He always seems to be first in there on the puck and hunts for pucks. I like the way he comes to play every game."

5. Tyler Johnson C: The 2011 free-agent signee is one of the swiftest skaters among Lightning prospects. He won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL's most valuable player last season after scoring a league-high 37 goals and finishing with 65 points in 62 games for Syracuse. Johnson (5-9 182) has 68 goals and 133 points in 137 AHL games. The 23-year-old played 14 games with the Lightning last season scoring three goals and finishing with six points and a plus-3 rating.

"He's fast makes things happen and is sound defensively; I didn't realize just how fast he was" Roest said. "Players today must be good at both ends of the rink and Tyler has that ability."