Pete Choquette's blog
Two for the price of one? That's what you get tonight on Bolt Prospects. We have already previewed available goaltenders and defensemen for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and now we'll begin with some of the forwards. Without a doubt the strength of this draft is up front, particularly at center where as many as ten pivot men could go off the board in the first half of round one. This is particularly good news for the Lightning because one of their primary needs is at the center position, particularly the need for a playmaking center. After years of giving the forward position lower priority, due partly to a young NHL corps of forwards including Lecavalier and Richards, the Lightning devoted much of their 2005 draft to the position in what can only be called a monumental success. Radek Smolenak, Blair Jones, Marek Kvapil and Stanislav Lascek already look like solid picks while Chris Lawrence and Marek Bartanus showed signs of life in the second half of the season. Still, Jones is the lone scoring line center prospect of any note and Bolt Prospects still ranks goal scoring winger as a secondary need for the organization.
In our ongoing series previewing the Lightning and the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, today we will move from the goaltenders out to the defensemen. USNTDP defenseman Erik Johnson is considered to be a virtual lock for the #1 overall selection in this draft, but beyond the big Minnesota born blueliner there is a huge drop off. In fact, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that Johnson will be the only defenseman who is a lottery pick this year. From pick 15 on, however, there are several defensemen who will be selected in the second half of the first round. With Matt Smaby, Vladimir Mihalik, Andy Rogers and Mike Egener already in the fold the Lightning are very well stocked with big, mobile, physical stay-at-home defensemen. Where they are perilously thin, however, is in defensemen who can fill more of an offensive role. Bolt Prospects only rates only one offensive defenseman prospect in its top 25, and that is Maine blueliner Mike Lundin who checks in at 22 and who some here on the Bolt Prospects staff (me) believe will struggle to get a contract next summer. At the NHL level, Dan Boyle has two years remaining on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Boyle leaves, the Lightning will need a tempo pushing offensive defenseman to take his place if they are to continue their successes. For that reason, Bolt Propspects ranks offensive defenseman as a primary need heading into the draft on June 24th in Vancouver.
We've already begun to shift gears at Bolt Prospects into coverage for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by examining organizational strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and philosophies. Today we'll take the next step on the road to June 24th in Vancouver by starting to examining some of the Lightning's potential options at their pick, 15th in the first round.
First up under the microscope are the goaltenders. It should be noted this is generally considered a down year between the pipes for draft prospects with no dominant top tier NHL prospects on the level of recent draftees like Roberto Luongo or Karri Lehtonen or even Rick Dipietro and M.A. Fleury. There is, however, some depth in terms of goaltender in this class if the Lightning choose to wait beyond the first round pick to try and land another goaltending prospect. In studying up on this draft it is clear the Lightning may have the opportunity to grab the first goalie off the board, if they so choose to do so, and it also appears that decision will come down to two prospects: Jonathan Bernier of Lewiston of the QMJHL and Riku Helenius of Ilves Jr. A in Finland. Bolt Prospects rates goaltending as a secondary need in this draft, but if the Lightning feel either player is the best player available at the 15 spot they could and should grab him.
Update 6/21: I'm going to sticky this at the top of the site until draft day so it doesn't get lost. I'm also going to provide the links to our draft capsules on this page:
1st Rd, 15th Overall: G Riku Helenius, 6'3" 202 lbs, Ilves Jr. (FIN Jr.)
3rd Round, 78th Overall: D Kevin Quick, 6'0" 175 lbs, Salisbury (USHS)
6th Round, 168th Overall: D Dane Crowley, 6'2" 210 lbs, Swift Current (WHL)
7th Round, 198th Overall: LW Denis Kazionov, 6'3" 187 lbs, Tver (RUS2)
For those who don't have the time to read the whole article, scroll down to the summary at the end.
After insulting the Lightning organization and fan base by calling Justin Keller "trash" and being made to look the fool by Chad Schnarr for claiming there hasn't been a good 8th round pick in a decade (Ryan Craig anyone?) I decided George Bachul must've had a rough day yesterday. So, rather than simply pick him apart I decided to do the right thing and e-mail him to discuss some of his misguided positions:
You and I need to have a little chat.
You see I didn't want to escalate the unpleasantness between our two websites by picking him apart without first giving Bachul the opportunity to explain himself. It only seemed gentlemanly to me. His response?
We have nothing to talk about. You have to show professional courtesy to
get professional courtesy.
Uh, George, that WAS your professional courtesy. But because you chose to act more like a petulant little child than someone legitimately interested in an honest discussion/debate about HockeysFuture's painfully terrible coverage and rating of Lightning prospects, you've left me no choice but to deconstruct your strain of misguided posts attempting to justify your organization's extremely poor product.
More on the flip: