2012 Post-draft Thoughts


Christmas has come and gone for us prospect followers and the excitement is starting to wear off – along with my headache from staring at a computer screen too long. At one point Twitter told me it couldn’t post my Bolt Prospects tweet because I was tweeting too much. Fair enough. On Sunday the picks and information were coming in faster than Cory Conacher’s rise from a no-name to possible Calder Trophy candidate next year. It was tough to keep up.

Before the draft the Lightning had several organizational needs for the farm, not the NHL club. We get asked repeatedly on draft days if so-and-so can step right in and play. Unlike football, the answer is no – outside of a couple picks in the top-5 overall. Yes, sometimes a Patrice Bergeron will sneak into the NHL right away, but it’s best to just know that you won’t be seeing these players for a few years at the least, especially with the uber-patient Steve Yzerman in charge (and that’s a good thing).

7th Round, 202nd Overall: LW Nikita Gusev

LW Nikita Gusev, 5'9" 163 lbs, CSKA Jr. (RUS Jr.), Shoots: Right
CSS #20 European Skater, RLR #218 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 34 GP, 30-46-76, +23, 26 PIM

Tampa Bay finishes its draft by selecting the prolific linemate of Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Gusev. Also, the Lightning take their third overage eligible of the draft.

Pros: Flat out lights it up statistically. He has all the puck skills and offensive hockey sense you would expect out of a Russian forward, and winds up all over the stat sheet because of it. Great in space, and a magician with the puck who dangles and buys time for his linemates as a playmaker. Also has a good sense for finding holes without the puck and jumping into them to set up a good one-timer.

Cons: Tiny. You won't see many highlights of Gusev working his way in and out of traffic, because not much footage exists. More of a perimeter player to this point of his career. Skating lacks the high end gear you'd want from a player his size. Turns 20 in July and has yet to taste much success on the KHL level. A flight risk back to the KHL if he ever comes over to North America. The "Russian factor" strikes again.

This is a classic late round flyer on a very talented young man who may never make it to North America, but may be lured by the chance to come with Kucherov. He's got the puck skills to be a second line scorer, but lack of a top gear in skating may keep him out of the NHL.

6th Round, 161st Overall: D Jake Dotchin

D Jake Dotchin, 6'2" 207 lbs, Owen Sound (OHL), Shoots: Right
CSS #139 North American Skater, RLR #109 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 64 GP, 3-16-19, -2, 77 PIM

The Lightning opt for another late bloomer in big Owen Sound defenseman Jake Dotchin.

Pros: Big, strong young man who is a hitter. Good awareness and good positionally. Reads the play well. Big hard shot. Shot up developmentally, as he had zero major junior experience before this season.

Cons: Skating has improved, but he's still on the slow side with poor footwork. Outlet passing needs work, as well.

Red Line report projected Dotchin as a depth defenseman in the stay-at-home mold and compared him to Mark Fraser.

4th Round, 101st Overall: C Cedric Paquette

C Cedric Paquette, 6'0" 198 lbs, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL), Shoots: Left
CSS Not Ranked, RLR #94 Overall

2011-2012 Statistics: 63 GP, 31-17-48, +1, 88 PIM

The Lightning go for their second overage draftee of the night in late blooming power center Cedric Paquette. Paquette was Blainville's best player in the playoffs.

Pros: Tenacious forechecker who dominates below the circles. Surprising puckhandling ability and soft hands.

Cons: Second year eligible only played 4 games of major junior before this year. Skating is a question mark.

Red Line Report projects Paquette as a gritty bottom six forward with some ability to contribute offensively, and compares him stylistically to Matthew Lombardi.

3rd Round, 71st Overall: C Tanner Richard

C Tanner Richard, 6'0" 182 lbs, Guelph (OHL), Shoots: Left
CSS #41 North American Skater, Red Line Report #43 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 43 GP, 13-35-48, +4, 46 PIM

The Lightning get fantastic value in the third round with Swiss second year eligible Tanner Richard.

Pros: Good skater with great acceleration. Soft hands and a great puckhandler and playmaker. Competes hard at both ends of the rink and surprisingly willing to play the physical game, despite his slight frame.

Cons: Nagging injuries limited him to 45 games, and those injuries may be attributed to his lack of strength and size. Second year eligible so a little less time to develop than others in this class.

Red Line Report projected Richard as a versatile top 9 forward who chips in offensively and compared him to Valtteri Filppula.

2nd Round, 53rd Overall: RW Brian Hart

RW Brian Hart, 6'2" 216 lbs, Exeter (USHS), Shoots: Right
CSS #54 North American Skater, ISS #64 Skater, RLR # 55 Overall, THN #56 Overall, TSN #46 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 29 GP, 32-36-68, 20 PIM

The Lightning continue to develop the Harvard pipeline with Crimson recruit Brian Hart out of the New Hampshire high school ranks. Like Alex Killorn before him, the Lightning end up with a prospect with good size and skill.

Pros: Great size and strength already. Heavy shot with a quick release. Soft hands around the net and good on deflections. Great natural athlete who is an accomplished soccer player, too.

Cons: First step acceleration. Could use his size more in the physical game.

Red Line Report projected Hart as a third line power forward who can chip in offensively. TSN's Craig Button compared him to ex-NHLer Bill Guerin.

2nd Round, 40th Overall: D Dylan Blujus

D Dylan Blujus, 6'3" 193 lbs, Brampton (OHL), Shoots: Right
CSS #71 North American Skater, RLR # 79 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 66 GP, 7-27-34, +4, 38 PIM

The Lightning address the seemingly perennial need for a righty offensive defenseman by drafting Dylan Blujus out of Brampton.

Pros: Offensively gifted. Soft hands and a big shot on the power play. Reads and jumps into the play well. Above average skater who can play big minutes. Defends well off the rush.

Cons: Prone to turnovers when he has the puck in his own third. Struggles with positioning once the opposition gains entry to his zone. More of a leaner physically than a hitter.

Red Line Report projected Blujus as a #5/6 defenseman and compared him to, ironically, Kyle Quincey.

Thoughts on Day 1


When and how do you judge a trade or draft pick?

Earlier this week I tweeted from Bolt Prospects that it was the 10-year anniversary of then Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster sending the fourth overall pick to Philadelphia for a young forward Tampa Bay thought had some upside and two second round picks. At the time, jaws hit the floor from Nanaimo to Naples. I was standing on the line that divided my living room from my dining room and saw the trade go across the ticker on what I believe was ESPN-2. Yes, I remember exactly where I was standing when I saw the news.

Bolt Prospects 2012 NHL Entry Draft Coverage: The Best of What's Left

According to Red Line Report, here are the 15 best players that are still available heading into Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft:

1. D Matt Finn, 6'0" 197 lbs, Guelph (OHL)(#14)
2. LW Pontus Aberg, 6'0" 198 lbs, Djurgardens (SWE)(#15)
3. RW Sebastien Collberg, 5'11" 176 lbs, Frolunda Jr. (SWE Jr.)(#24)
4. RW Scott Kosmachuk, 6'0" 182 lbs, Guelph (OHL)(#25)
5. D Damon Severson, 6'2" 198 lbs, Kelowna (WHL)(#30)
6. G Oscar Dansk, 6'2" 183 lbs, Brynas Jr. (SWE Jr.)(#31)
7. LW Phil Di Giuseppe, 6'1" 195 lbs, Michigan (CCHA)(#32)
8. LW Tim Bozon, 6'1" 178 lbs, Kamloops (WHL)(#33)

1st Round, 19th Overall: G Andrei Vasilevski

G Andrei Vasilevski, 6'3" 204 lbs, Ufa Jr. (RUS Jr.), Catches: Left
CSS #1 European Goaltender, ISS #3 Goaltender, RLR #10 Overall, THN #21 Overall, TSN #24 Overall

2011-2012 Statistics: 27 GP, 2.23 GAA, .931 sv%

Vasilevski was considered the top goaltender in this draft and likely would have been a lottery pick were it not for the fabled "Russian factor" depressing his draft stock. Fans may know him more for being pulled in the U20 World Junior Championship Semifinals against Canada, but prior to that game Vasilevski was the most dominant netminder in that tournament despite the fact he was an underage player.

Pros: Big, athletic, and very calm. Defines "economy of motion" between the pipes. Very good glove hand. Excellent rebound control for a young netminder.

Cons: Like many young goaltenders, can have a tendency to play too deep in his crease. Below average handling the puck. Developmental situation isn't ideal in Russia and he could be a flight risk to the KHL if he doesn't have immediate success when he comes over to North America. "The Russian factor."

Red Line Report projected Vasilevski as a number one goaltender for a playoff caliber club and compared him to Montreal's Carey Price.

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