In recent CHL exhibition action:
Richard Panik (2009 2nd) had a goal and three assists in a 5-3 Windsor exhibition win over Plymouth Saturday afternoon. Panik has three goals and five assists in his first two North American games. And he's not even playing next to likely 2010 No.1 overall pick Taylor Hall yet. Panik couldn't be in a better situation. He's playing for a coach (Bob "The Boogie Man" Boughner) and GM (Warren Rychel) who were both hard-nosed, disciplined players and expect the same out of their Spitfire players. As the defending Memorial Cup and OHL champions, and expected 2010 champion for both, the Spits will be in Canada's spotlight and have targets on their backs all year. They'll get everyone's A-game defensively. This should help Panik speed his development for NHL play. Finally, he'll be surrounded by players such as Hall, Ryan Ellis, and Cam Fowler, which means he has a very high statistical ceiling. This will be fun to watch.
Goaltender Jaroslav Janus made his exhibition debut for Erie Saturday, stopping 31 shots in a 4-4 tie with Niagara. Janus can return to Erie this year as an overager, though there was speculation he'd go to Europe or be signed by the Lightning and placed in the Central League or assigned to an ECHL team. It's good to see him back with the Otters, even if it's just to get work before Tampa Bay's rookie camp this week.
The "other" 2009 Lightning first rounder, Carter Ashton, had an assist for Lethbridge in preseason action Friday.
Matias Sointu, who is making his North American debut with Ottawa this year, has one assist through two exhibition games for the 67's. Sointu missed most of last season with an injury in Finland.
The Q opens regular season play this week, so look for BoltProspects' Game Night summaries to appear shortly.
It's almost impossible to beat the haul the Lightning got in 1998 (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Dimitry Afanasenkov, and Martin Cibak), but I think the Lightning might've just completed their second best draft in team history. They already completed a first in history making a pair of first round picks on night one of the draft with Victor Hedman and Carter Ashton, so they were on their way already.
However, their second and fourth round selections really put this draft over the top. Richard Panik is a big time gamble, but he's going to a very good program in Windsor and will be playing for Bob Boughner. On pure talent, he could be even better than Ashton if you can get his head on straight, and he'll be in the environment in Windsor to facilitate that.
And, we love that Alex Hutchings pick. Absolutely love it. You got a hockey player who can play center or wing. Good skater. Good hockey sense. He can pass. He can shoot. He mucks well for a little guy. He just knows how to play the game. It's shocking he fell into the Lightning's lap in the fourth round, and in getting Hutchings the Lightning completed a very successful first four rounds where they got 4 of the top 48 rated prospects by THN and 4 of the top 60 by Red Line. That's in a deep draft, no less, so they got a lot of quality.
The goaltenders, Zador and Janus, seem like a reaction to Karri Ramo's defection. Zador's got to get playing time, but he was a first rounder in the OHL Priority Draft in 2007, so he's got raw ability. Janus made his name at the WJC's and had decent statistics for Erie this season. Because Janus was an overager, he'll probably only have one more year in junior. Zador probably gets two. You're just wishing and hoping one of them develops the way Ramo did when the Lightning took a sixth rounder on him out of Lahti.
I have a feeling the Lightning got some value out of that Gotovets pick. I'm guessing if his name was Johnson or Wilson, he might've gone a couple of rounds sooner, but teams are terrified of the KHL poaching their players. Yes, there's a danger if Gotovets develops he could be poached by Dynamo Minsk, but he's already taken the step of coming over to Shattuck and he already speaks pretty flawless English. I don't think you make that commitment and go to an Ivy League school like Cornell only to turn back around and go back to Belarus, and I have yet to hear about anything glaringly wrong with his game other than the fact he's pretty skinny. He'll be a darkhorse to watch over the next few years.
The only regret is that the Lightning didn't find a way to get an offensive defenseman or two into the system. That'll be something they'll need to look at next year, and they'll certainly continue to try to flesh out their forward depth. Getting Ashton, Panik, and Hutchings was a whale of a start, though. Very good draft. I suspect they get at least three NHL players out of this group.
Evidently, Janus would've gone to Russia to play in the KHL if he hadn't been drafted, and he wants to play pro this season and not go back to junior. That's an interesting problem for a Lightning organization that has Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski all but inked into the lineup in Norfolk next season.
Ashton is the son of former NHL left winger Brent Ashton, who played 998 NHL games split between nine NHL clubs. Carter grew up in several cities, but played his minor hockey in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
- Selected in the 1st round, 7th overall, of the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He appeared in two games for the Hurricanes in the 2006-2007 season, going scoreless and minus-1.
- Ashton got off to a slow start his rookie year, going scoreless in his first eight games. His first WHL goal was scored December 12, 2007, vs. Calgary. He had two goals and three points against Prince George January 26. For the year, he would score five goals and nine points in 40 games. He missed three months with a broken collarbone. Ashton played in 19 playoff games that spring as the Hurricanes advanced to the WHL finals vs. Dustin Tokarski and Spokane. The Chiefs swept the Hurricanes 4-0. Ashton had one assist in his 19 playoff games.
- Had a breakout season for the Hurricanes, scoring 30 goals (team leader) and 50 points in 70 games to go along with 93 penalty minutes. His season started off slow again as he scored just two goals in his first 13 games. He earned his first career hat trick November 16 against Edmonton. During the playoffs, Ashton had one goal and three points in 11 games. Lethbridge was swept by Calgary in the second round. Ashton failed to earn a point in the sweep.
- Ashton had an impressive training camp with the Lightning following the draft, and rumors were he may end up staying with the Lightning. As it was, the Bolts signed Ashton and re-assigned him to Lethbridge after playing in an exhibition game.
- Played well in Lightning camp and in the exhibition season (two goals in two games) before being returned to his junior team. Even though he was close to making the team the previous year, new GM Steve Yzerman emphasizes playing time for prospects so Ashton was sent to the WHL.
"Carter is a solid prototypical power forward; he knows the game and really is astute at the power-play and penalty kill, offensive and defensive parts of his game." - NHL CSS Director EJ McGuire
Ashton plays a meat and potatoes pro style game that should translate well to the NHL. He plays a solid north-south game and will go into the high traffic areas to score goals and make plays. He has a long frame that is just beginning to fill out and is exceptional at protecting the puck down low in the offensive zone. He is deadly as a finisher from anywhere below the dots in the offensive zone. In terms of intangibles, Ashton is a very hard worker who had the best VO2 max rating at the Scouting Combine in 2009.
His offensive game is still in its infancy and he's just learning how to use his linemates to create scoring chances. As a consequence, he needs a playmaking centerman to truly be effective offensively.
Carter in still a work in progress, but the foundation is there for him to develop into an NHL power forward who will have a long and successful career. He may need one season in the AHL with Norfolk before that happens. His father, Brent, was a solid 25 goal, 50-55 point a year man in the NHL and the apple doesn't appear to fall that far from the tree. Carter projects to be a solid second line winger who will do the dirty work for his linemates and bang home 20-30 goals a season like NHLers Ryan Malone or Dustin Penner.
|2004-2005||Saskatoon Generals Bantam AA||SBHL||56||25||39||64||93||||
|2005-2006||Saskatoon Frostbite Bantam AA||SBHL||50||58||44||102||172||||
|Canada Western U17||WHC-17||6||1||5||6||2||||
|Canada U18||Hlinka Memorial||4||1||2||3||0||||
|Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||15||0||0||0||13||||
|2013-2014||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||32||0||3||3||19||||
|2014-2015||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||7||0||0||0||0||||
|2015-2016||Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod||KHL||46||13||10||23||61|||||Playoffs||9||0||0||0||38|
|2016-2017||Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod||KHL||49||16||7||23||46||||
Player statistics © www.eliteprospects.com