Thoughts on Day Two

Let me start by saying, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft afterglow really puts into focus just how amazing a job Jim Hammett and Darryl Plandowski did in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. To put it bluntly, they spoiled us. When you walk out of a draft with four guys who were probably among the top forty or fifty picks in the draft, it's exhilerating. But, not every year can be like 2009 or even like the 2006 draft when the Lightning used their first four picks on four pretty solidly touted prospects.

By the time the Lightning got to their second pick at sixty-third overall, the large majority of the quality known talent was off the board. That's the difference between a draft where you have three top sixty picks and another where you have just one, I suppose. So, the Lightning were going off the beaten path for much of day two to try to find potential NHLers and fill organizational needs. As a consequence, the quality of this draft class isn't going to be as immediately apparent, and right now it feels like the draft will live and die on the shoulders, or hips, of Brett Connolly.

Seventh Round, One-Hundred and Eighty-Sixth Overall

Name: Teigan Zahn
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Left
Height: 6.01
Weight: 218 lbs
Born: 1/4/1990, Regina, SK
Last Team: Saskatoon (WHL)
Rankings: CSS NR (North American Skaters), RLR NR (Overall), THN NR (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Saskatoon (WHL), 44 GP, 0-3-3, -3, 83 PIM
Saskatoon (WHL Playoffs), 10 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 8 PIM

Scouting Comments:
The Lightning get a tough guy and some immediate help on the blueline for Norfolk in the form of ex-2008 fifth round Blackhawks pick, Teigan Zahn.

Strengths:
A former first round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, Zahn has good athleticism and has shown a willingness to contribute physically, including dropping the gloves. Also was an assistant captain for Saskatoon and has some decent leadership ability. Makes a suprisingly decent first pass out of the zone.

Weaknesses:
Skating was a knock on Zahn in his draft season and he brings very limited offense to the table. Injuries have also hampered Zahn along the way in his junior career, including a broken leg this season.

Projection:
The Lightning will, presumably, sign Zahn to bolster their blueline depth in Norfolk. The question is whether Zahn can grow beyond being a scrapper for the team. You don't get to be a first round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft if you don't have ability, but it's never translated into anything so far.

Sixth Round, One-Hundred and Fifty-Sixth Overall

Name: Brendan O'Donnell
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 6.00
Weight: 185 lbs
Born: 6/25/1992, Winnipeg, MN
Last Team: Winnipeg South (MJHL)
Rankings: CSS NR (North American Skaters), RLR NR (Overall), THN NR (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Winnipeg (MJHL), 53 GP, 29-32-61, 55 PIM

Scouting Comments:
The Lightning take a penny stock in the form of O'Donnell, who is a skilled player committed to North Dakota of the WCHA.

Strengths:
O'Donnell was one of the top twenty scorers in the MJHL as a rookie and has a solid skating stride and good vision. He's also shown a well-rounded two-way game.

Weaknesses:
Level of competition. O'Donnell hasn't played at nearly the level of many of his draft day contemporaries. He'll really need to elevate his game to make an impact with North Dakota.

Projection:
The Lightning will have a good four or five years, depending on when O'Donnell enrolls at North Dakota, to allow the centerman to develop and improve. He's a prime example of a sixth round flier the team hopes pays off.

Fourth Round, One Hundred Eighteenth Overall

Name: James Mullin
Position: Center/Right Wing
Shoots: Right
Height: 5.10
Weight: 152 lbs
Born: 2/24/1992, Philadelphia, PA
Last Team: Shattuck St. Mary's Prep (Minnesota High School)
Rankings: CSS 165 (North American Skaters), RLR NR (Overall), THN NR (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Shattuck St. Mary's (USHS), 55 GP, 32-40-72, 26 PIM

Strengths:
Mullin can score, and that's the name of the game. He led the prestigious Shattuck program (of Sidney Crosby fame) last season in scoring when he was a teammate of fellow Lightning prospect Kirill Gotovets. Mullin is small, but he's a speedy, tenacious player, as well as a creative playmaker and a good finisher. He makes his linemates better with his style of play.

Weaknesses:
Size is a major issue for Mullin, who must add weight to his small frame. He also needs to make quicker decisions with the puck as time and space will shrink at the next levels.

Projection:
Mullin will have up to four years at the University of Miami (Ohio) to add strength and weight and could come out of collegiate play as a mid-round steal for the Lightning. He's got a long road to the NHL, but has a fine chance to be a solid contributor at the AHL level at the least. The more the game opens up, the more it favors players such as Mullin. As the Lightning's Martin St. Louis has proven, there's no substitute for heart, desire, and natural skill, but you have to have legs the size of tree trunks to make it as a small player in the big leagues.

Fourth Round, Ninety-Sixth Overall

Name: Geoffery Schemitsch
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.01
Weight: 169 lbs
Born: 4/1/1992, Toronto, ON
Last Team: Owen Sound (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 123 (North American Skaters), RLR 150 (Overall), THN 49 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Owen Sound (OHL), 62 GP, 4-36-40, +1, 24 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Fine offensive skills. Next body contact will be his first." -Red Line Report

Strengths:
Schemitsch has come out of nowhere as an undrafted player in the OHL to put up 40 points last season for the Owen Sound Attack. He's a solid, although not explosive, skater who is an outstanding passer of the puck. He's a cerebral, finesse style player. Should be a good fit for Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system.

Weaknesses:
Schemitsch is very slightly built and that shows up in his reluctance in the physical game. Seems allergic to to taking the body.

Projection:
Like Janosik and Beukeboom, the Lightning will allow Schemitsch to spend the next two seasons in junior trying to fill the holes in his game before making a signing decision. He's got a long enough frame that he should be able to put on some weight. The question is whether he'll use it to actually hit anyone once he puts it on.

Third Round, Seventy-Second Overall

Name: Adam Janosik
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.11
Weight: 170 lbs
Born: 9/7/1992, Spiska Nova Ves, Slovakia
Last Team: Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 176 (North American Skaters), RLR 105 (Overall), THN 49 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Gatineau (QMJHL), 63 GP, 9-26-35, +14, 45 PIM
Gatineau (QMJHL Playoffs), 10 GP, 5-2-7, -6, 4 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Smallish d-man has the tools to become a power play specialist." -Red Line Report

Strengths:
The young Slovakian may be a perfect fit for Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 system. He's a good skater and loves to handle the puck and handles it well. Excellent puck rusher who also is fantastic puck distributor on the power play. For a small player, he makes good decisions in his own end and moves the puck out of danger decisively. He doesn't turn 18 until September, so he has plenty of time to grow up, and in an ideal world he might grow another one to two inches in height and put on another fifteen to twenty pounds.

Weaknesses:
He's very small and not physically able to compete in one-on-one battles, even though he tries hard. Positioning in his defensive third requires further refinement.

Projection:
Because he's so young, the Lightning can take their time with Janosik. Ideally, he'd spend another couple of seasons with Gatineau getting bigger and stronger and developing his game. Red Line Report projects Janosik has a number seven defenseman and power play specialist with a skill set like Mark Streit.

Third Round, Sixty-Sixth Overall

Name: Radko Gudas
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.00
Weight: 189 lbs
Born: 6/5/1990, Prague, Czech Republic
Last Team: Everett (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 91 (North American Skaters), RLR 147 (Overall), THN NR (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Everett (WHL), 65 GP, 7-30-37, +45, 151 PIM
Everett (WHL Playoffs), 3 GP, 0-2-2, E, 4 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Ultra competitive prick to play against." -Red Line Report

Strengths:
An older prospect who turned 20 in June, Gudas has earned a reputation as one of the biggest hitters in this draft class. He competes hard, and despite his small frame he loves to take the body. Red Line rates Gudas the third biggest pest in this draft class and compares his demeanor to that of a pit bull. Was named a Western Conference Second Team All-Star this season, partly because he also has the ability to move the puck resonably well and he has decent mobility.

Weaknesses:
Stickhandling is considered poor and his decision-making with the puck needs refinement. Because he's two years older than most of the prospects in this draft, what you see is what you get, to an extent. He's not going to get much bigger than his current size, although his tenacity compensates for his stature.

Projection:
Because of his age, the Lightning could sign him immediately and send him to Norfolk of the AHL. He's got a lot of experience, having played 14 games for Kladno in the Czech Extraliga two years ago and 65 games in the Czech second tier league with Beroun between 2006 and 2009. He also was a training camp invitee of the Kings last Fall, so he won't be entering his first NHL training camp. With one or two seasons of refinement, he could make it to the NHL as an energetic third pairing blueliner and world class pest.

Third Round, Sixty-Third Overall

Name: Brock Beukeboom
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.01
Weight: 202 lbs
Born: 4/1/1992, Greenwich, CT
Last Team: Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 41 (North American Skaters), RLR 68 (Overall), THN 49 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Sault Ste Marie (OHL), 66 GP, 7-19-26, -9, 64 PIM
SaulT Ste Marie (OHL Playoffs), 1 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Even though he plays a physical, competitive game, he has less grit tha his father, but more talent." -THN

Strengths:
Buekeboom has good bloodlines, with his father being the son of former Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom. He's got good straight line mobility, likes to take the body, and has a cannon shot that he's deployed on the power play for Sault this season. Cleans up the front of his net.

Weaknesses:
Beukeboom is coachable and a quick learner, but he still needs to refine his decision making. Prone to move the puck blindly or hold onto it too long. His shot takes a long time to release, as well, and he sometimes struggles with accuracy. Needs to work on his pivots.

Projections:
Beukeboom likely will need a couple of years in junior to develop before the Lightning sign him and bring him into the pro ranks. He has offensive upside, but it remains to be seen if it develops over the next couple of years. Red Line Report projects Beukeboom to be a solid number five defenseman who plays a style like Francois Beauchemin.

Thoughts on Day One

Wow, what a night. Things went to plan for three picks and then everything descended into slow moving chaos. The Blue Jackets took the guy I, personally, thought the Lightning would end up with at the fourth pick, the Islanders took the guy half the internet thought was going to the Lightning with the fifth pick, and then the Lightning decided not to take the guy everyone thought they would take with the sixth pick, as Brandon Gormley and Cam Fowler spiraled down the draft board in the mild hockey equivalent of an Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn draft free fall.

What to make of Brett Connolly, though? There's absolutely no doubt his athleticism and skill are world class, or at least they were prior to his injuries. Connolly's agent wouldn't allow teams to perform an MRI on prior to the draft to verify its soundness, so one wonders how the Lightning made an informed decision about it. Between his hips and some talk of structural weakness in his hand, I seriously wonder if the Lightning have drafted a guy who will end up being a part time player like Buffalo's Tim Connolly. Adding to my fears was a post-draft interview on TSN that did nothing to disspell whispers I've heard about Connolly's attitude. He looked annoyed and bored, all at the same time, and I'm wondering what is going on in his head. Is he going to carry a chip on his shoulder into the rest of the offseason and training camp to show the world that not only are his hips healthy, but that he was indeed the best player in this draft class? Or is Connolly already a little burned out by the scrutiny that comes with being a premiere prospect? Seriously, after watching the interview and after my making a big deal of how badly Connolly came across, the BoltProspects staff reviewed several pieces of interview footage, and we've come to the unnerving conclusion Connolly may be incapable of emoting genuine happiness.

Smile, man. You just were selected in the top ten of the NHL draft.

First Round, Sixth Overall

Name: Brett Connolly
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.02
Weight: 181
Born: 5/2/92, Prince George, BC
Last Team: Prince George (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 3 (NA Skaters), ISS 11 (Skaters), RLR 13 (Overall), THN 4 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Prince George (WHL), 16 GP, 10-9-19, -3, 8 PIM
Canada (U18 WJC), 4 GP, 1-0-1, E, 10 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"(Connolly) makes an impact on the game without looking like he's even breaking a sweat." - Red Line Report

Strengths:
Prior to his hips injuries, Connolly was a blend of great top end speed, agility, and world class hockey sense. He finds seams in the offensive zone and buries his chances with ruthless efficiency. He's also an underrated penalty killer.

Weaknesses:
Injuries. Connolly has had serious hip flexor problems in both of his hips which cost him much of his draft season, and there's some question if his skating ability will ever recover. He's also slight of build and needs to get bigger to win one-on-one puck battles. He's not terrible defensively, but his game in the defensive third does need refinement.

Projection:
If he's healthy, the Lightning have a first line scoring winger for the next ten years. Red Line compares Connolly to Sharks star Patrick Marleau in terms of his skills package. But, it's also a possibility that Connolly's injury problems never go away and he's a part time player a la Buffalo's Tim Connolly. High risk. High reward.

Syndicate content