In a match-up of two Lightning prospects seemingly headed in opposite directions, Stan Lascek and the powerful Chicoutimi Sagueneens beat the lowly Rimouski Oceanic and Mark Tobin
7-5 Tuesday night. Both prospects had two points on the night - Lascek with two assists, and Tobin with a goal and a helper.
Lascek, a fifth round pick in last year's draft, is leading the QMJHL in scoring and has already surprassed his goal total from all of last season. He's an early MVP candidate and is nearly a lock for a professional contract. Tobin, on the other hand, was a late second rounder in 2004 and was thought to have more scoring touch than he initially showed in his draft year (22-16-38 in 69 games). Last season, playing on one of the best teams to ever win the QMJHL title, Tobin was unable to raise his goal total, matching the 22 he scored the year before. However, he did add 12 more assists to finish 22-28-50 in 68 games - thanks to some power play time with Sidney Crosby and Dany Roussin and the like. If there was a positive to not being able to play on a regular line with a super-prospect like Crosby last year, it was that Tobin never saw the opposition's best checking line.
This year, however, in what was to be a telling season for Tobin's talent, Tobin is being counted on by Rimouski for offense, and is facing the opposition's best checkers. After 26 games, he has only 8 goals, and despite being a second rounder and QMJHL veteran, the Newfoundland native is just seventh on the Oceanic in scoring - behind two defensemen. A supposed two-way performer, he is also a team-worst minus-24 this season. Last season he was minus-one.
Tobin is nearly a lock to be traded this December as Rimouski will no-doubt accumulate picks and prospects for another future championship run. If Tobin's work ethic is strong and he is put in the right situation, he could show enough to earn a professional contract at season's end. At the least, he could be signed and placed in the ECHL like John Toffey
, a much less-heralded prospect coming out of the UMass last year. What could be different is the Lightning already have a hoard of prospects signed that are grinders, and are in need of scoring prospects like Lascek, Justin Keller
, Blair Jones
, and Radek Smolenak
. There may not be room on the organizational roster for another grinder with limited offensive ability.