I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I need to keep this out there- I can't go through watching Taylor out there again knowing the impact (bottle-neck) it creates in our prospect system and deficiency it creates in our third and fourth lines. It's not Taylor's fault- ofcourse he wants to play. The problem is the coach would actually play him, as evidenced last year. Question: if Taylor didn't play for the Lightning last year, where could he have played? or next year? Imagine this scenario: Perrin goes to Montreal for a 2 year 1.5 million and we sign Taylor for 1 yr for 600K. That's w
Asked about the quality of hockey in Switzerland, controversial Lightning draft pick Luca Cunti had this to say in the St. Pete Times:
Center and third-round pick Luca Cunti doesn't think much of hockey in his Swiss homeland. Asked about the country's developmental program, he said, "It's not better. That's why I want to come here."
Right answer. I don't think this young man is quite the coach killing punk some have made him out to be. I think he's bored playing inferior opponents in Swiss Junior A and the NLB which isn't even the top Swiss leage. He's looking for a challenge, and that's what you want from this guy: the desire to get better. So much was made about whether or not Luca would come to North America but if you look at everything the young man has said he is talking in very specific and very concrete terms about pursuing his career over here. Good. Being in the right frame of mind is a big hurdle for Cunti to get over and it looks like he might get there. The next step is to prove he can play North American hockey in the CHL or USHL and not get his helmet fed to him.
Entering the draft the Lightning's prospects of filling their organizational needs at forward looked so bleak the local media was printing stories that were already ratcheting down expectations. The team had no first round pick. It might not have had a second round pick if the Panthers had exercised the option they gained in the Chris Gratton trade. 2007 looked like a throwaway draft. Yet for some strange reason I actually had a good feeling about this draft because there were parallels to the 2002 draft. You'll recall in 2002, Jay Feaster's first draft as the head of the Bolts, the team dealt off its #4 overall pick in the controversial Ruslan Fedotenko deal and then dealt off a second round pick for defenseman Brad Lukowich leaving the team with a lone second round pick as their only selection in the first three rounds. And, like this year's draft, 2002 was panned as a poor draft class with the exception of the first 4 or 5 picks.
2002 was the finest hour of the Lightning's scouts during the Jay Feaster era even despite stubbing their toe with Adam Henrich with their first selection. They succeeded by outworking the rest of the league that day. Most of the other scouting staffs in the NHL were so sour on that draft class they didn't even want to deal with the later rounds of the draft. Carolina practically gave away a bundle of picks to the Lightning because there were no more players they wanted left on their list. And so the much maligned Lightning scouting staff crafted a working man's masterpiece almost entirely from round six on: Paul Ranger, Fredrik Norrena and Ryan Craig are all NHL regulars. Darren Reid has seen time in the league each of the last two seasons. Vasily Koshechkin is considered perhaps the best goaltending prospect in all of Russia. The team thought outside the box. They took overagers (Craig). They turned over rocks to find players (Koshechkin). They gambled on players who might not have played much during the year but had the skills and upside to warrant taking a flyer (Ranger). They haven't had a draft that good since.
Something about the challenge of making something out of nothing makes this Lightning staff rise to the occassion, and while I can't guarantee that the 2007 draft will pan out as well as that 2002 draft, there's reason to be very optimistic. The philosophy was different for this draft, but the work ethic wasn't and when Ottawa practically gave away a bundle of three picks for a spare 4th round pick today the comparisons to 2002 became even stronger. I liked what I saw today.
Apparently the only RFA Chicago did not qualify this offseason was Nikita Alexeev. This, despite Dudley following around Tallon whispering in his ear.
And thus ended the NHL career of Nikita Alexeev.
Like I said, the only thing that's for certain in this draft is that nothing's for certain. For those of you who sat through the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft Friday night (a bizarre decision by NHL higher ups hell bent on running the league into the ground, I think) you witnessed one of the more scrambled draft boards in recent memory as several teams went well off the board with one of the top 30 selections in the draft. For the Lightning, they made an appearance, but little else, and with no guarantee the Panthers won't exercise their option on pick #47 (the Gratton re-re-acquisition) the Lightning might not have much to do until the 75th and 77th overall picks in the third round. Still, if you like speculation, here's speculation. In no particular order, here are some of the top forward prospects still remaining in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft heading into day two:
Anyone hear any trade rumors about trading Marc Denis? Teams like Los Angelos, Phoenix, Boston, and Florida have been rumored to be looking for a goalie. Goalies rumored on the move are Martin Gerber and Manny Fernandez. In my opinion although Marc Denis had a rough season he is a better goalie than Gerber, seems like a team would be willing to trade for Denis before they would for Gerber since Denis's contract is alot less and his contract length is shorter than Gerber. Nobody thinks we'll be able to trade Denis, but Goalies in the free agent market are limited and if Goalies like Giguere
Seeing all the talk about what we should do with our lines recently, there are two names out there I would LOVE to see in Tampa. The first is Huselius, and the second is Straka. I think either one of these guys could be deadly on a line with Richards. I think Huselius would be more costly on the trade front, but we have a deep ammount of goalies/defensemen that I think have some pretty decent value. He has a really nice cap number at 1.4 mil. Great hands, and perhaps he could move to the first line with Vinny, and move MSL back to the second line to wing with Richards. Huselius seems to be more of a passer to me which would make things odd with him and Richards being the playmaking type.
With rumors of Montreal's interest in Perrin, I wonder how negotiations are going with Perrin. I'm afraid of losing him because his points don't indicate the importance he brought to this team! He played a big role as a forechecker and penalty killer, played top 6- 85 % of the time, and had he scored more early would have gained the confidence to score more. In other words, he almost had a great season. Remember the two big goals disallowed; the one where he "kicked it" and the one where he guided it with his hand? Both would have been game winning goals. This guy was close to crossing over: we need to keep Perrin!
If you are reading this, then you know BoltProspects was offline for about 24 hours following an epic battle between an electrical storm and some internet hardware. The lightning won.
As Chad put it, the irony of ironies is that BoltProspects.com was taken offline by lightning. Go figure.
We'll were back and looking forward to Pete and Chad's coverage and analysis of Tampa's picks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft this weekend.
"The only thing that's for sure is nothing's for sure."