Lightning draftee Kirill Gotovets recently competed in Poland with his native Belarus in the IIHF World U20 Championships, DIV I Group B tournament. Gotovets, a defenseman, and his Belarus teammates were attempting to qualify for the 2011 World Junior Championships (WJC) in the U.S. by advancing out of the division.
Belarus (3-0-2) finished with the silver, however, and won't join Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the like next year. Gotovets went scoreless in two games played, while accumulating four penalty minutes and seven shots on goal. The Cornell University commit will now return to Shattuck St-Mary's school in Minnesota, where he has three goals and nine points to go with 49 penalty minutes in 19 games.
Norway advanced out of Group B and will join Germany (Group A) as entries in next Christmas' WJC tournament.
Minnesota Red 10 vs. Shattuck-St. Maryâ€™s 3 (Championship)
D Kirill Gotovets, S-SM: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 14 GP, 2-3-5, 33 PIM
Shattuck advanced to the Bauer NIT Tournament (New Hope, Minnesota) championship game with an 8-1 win over the Dallas Stars and a 7-1 win over the MDHL U-18 White team. They fell hard to a good Minnesota Red squad in the finals, 10-3. Warroad HS senior and North Dakota commit Brock Nelson, a possible Mr. Hockey candidate in Minnesota, had a hat trick for Red. Gotovets, a Cornell commit, played in two of the three games and did not register a point.
D Kirill Gotovets, Shattuck-Saint Mary's, USHS
Season Totals: 14 GP, 2-3-5, 33 PIM
Gotovets, a Cornell recruit and a 2009 seventh round draft choice of the Lightning, is having a so-so year offensively thus far for Shattuck-Saint Mary's (Minnesota, USHS). After accumulating six goals and 29 points in 50 games last season, the defenseman has five points after 14 games this season. His first goal of the season came on October 7, a 5-4 loss to Northeast. He also had 15 penalty minutes in the game for grabbing an opponent's facemask (5 minute major) and a subsequent game misconduct. That game would also end his three game point streak. He scored again against Southwest on October 11, a 4-1 win. Two of his three assists have come on the power play. His 33 penalty minutes leads the team. Gotovets missed Shattuck's last game, a 3-2 loss to Northwest on October 25.
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.