The Syracuse-to-Tampa pipeline is flowing just fine these days, funneling Lightning prospects up from the minors and seamlessly integrating them into the Tampa Bay lineup.

The Lightning will dress at least three rookies, and possibly a fourth, tonight when Tampa Bay hosts Winnipeg (7:30 p.m., Sun Sports). All have contributed on the ice.

It sounds like a simple plan: develop players and plug them in slowly to build depth and establish organizational culture. It was part of the five-year plan general manager Steve Yzerman put in place when he was hired in 2010.

Though it also was the plan during previous regimes, it was never executed as successfully as it is now.

Since the lockout ended and the NHL season began, every player the Lightning have summoned from the minor leagues has stepped right into the lineup and looked like a perfect fit.

"Every waterfall starts with one drop of water,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "And every drop that you bring in, that makes a big difference because once you brought one and then two and then three, all of a sudden you have a line. And then you have a pair of defensemen that fit within your culture and eventually you have your waterfall.

"So, right now, we have tons of drops, so we're trying to make a waterfall.''