North American Juniors

Brett Connolly - Rising Titan

(HockeyProspect.com) Whether the game be played at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, or at the Ice Sports Palace Sibir in Russia, many young and talented hockey players looking to enter North American professional hockey acknowledge the pressure that hangs on their draft year.

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was no exception, as many players from all over the world came together in Los Angeles just after taking part in their draft year.

Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars was no exception.

To read this interview, including Connolly's thoughts on being drafted, his immediate future, and Lightning Director of Player Personnel Jim Hammett's thoughts on the pick and Connolly's health, see HockeyProspect.com by clicking here.

Will Leblanc's Situation Affect Alex Killorn?

Rumors have been swirling all week that Montreal first round draft pick Louis Leblanc may have already decided to leave Harvard University after one season with the Crimson. Montreal writer Pat Hickey penned a story for the Montreal Gazette on Wednesday claiming the speedy forward might be weighing whether to go to the QMJHL or sign with the Canadiens and play in the AHL for Hamilton. Compounding the intrigue was that Leblanc, whose junior rights were held by Chicoutimi, apparently had a preference to play for the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL so he could also attend classes at McGill University to continue his education.

Today, at the tail end of the QMJHL Midget Draft, Chicoutimi traded Leblanc's rights to the Montreal Juniors, along with a 3rd round pick, for Guillaume Asselin and a 2011 first round pick. That will only serve to intensify speculation that Leblanc may leave Harvard. If Leblanc leaves, he will add to a list of players not returning to the Crimson that already included graduating seniors Doug Rogers, Chad Morin, Alex Biega, Jack Christian, and Ian Tallett. While only Rogers, Morin, and Biega were serious contributors to Harvard last season, it's important to bear in mind the club has only won 9 games each of the past two seasons. Losing those players and their leading scorer, Leblanc, may be a death sentence for Ted Donato's club next season.

All that begs the question: what about Alex Killorn? Killorn, a 2007 3rd round pick of the Lightning, has been routinely singled out over the past couple of seasons as being one of the team's best young talents in prospect camps but has failed to garner much publicity playing for a sinking Harvard club. If Leblanc leaves, can the Lightning allow one of their ten best prospects to languish through another potential single-digits win season at Harvard? Would it be better for his development to sign Killorn and have him begin his pro career with Norfolk of the AHL? Expect new GM Steve Yzerman to seriously contemplate that option if Killorn impresses him as much at this summer's prospect camp as he has other Hockey Operations people with the Lightning in previous camps.

If Killorn were to be signed, he'd join fellow signees Johan Harju and Mark Barberio from an already strong class of incoming pros. The team could also still sign 2009 2nd round pick Richard Panik, who just completed his first World Championships appearance for Slovakia.

Hat tip to our Chad Schnarr, who has been following this situation closely on BoltProspects' Twitter feed.

Lightning Relinquish Rights to DeCoste, Sointu

With the June 1 signing deadline for 2008 draftees now come and gone, the Lightning have relinquished the rights to prospects Kyle DeCoste (Belleville, OHL) and Matias Sointu (Sudbury, OHL).

There was some question about Sointu's rights as he was drafted out of Finland, but Bolt Prospects confirmed with the Lightning that Sointu did indeed need to be signed by June 1 to retain his rights.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-18-10

Windsor Spitfires 4 vs. Moncton Wildcats 3 (OT)
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (holding)
Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Despite already clinching a spot in the tournament’s championship game, Windsor clawed their way back from a 3-2 third period deficit to force overtime and ultimately defeat the QMJHL champion Wildcats 4-3. With the loss, Moncton fell to 0-3. Their tournament and season are now complete. Barberio did not register a point in the round robin portion of the event, and the last picture of the Wildcats’ season will be a dejected Barberio standing in front of goaltender Shane Owen as Windsor celebrates in the background. Although the ultimate ending is now what Barberio envisioned, his team did win their league championship, he had a career year statistically, was a finalist for defenseman of the year, and led all blueliners in playoff points. He should have an NHL contract in his immediate future and projects to be playing defense for AHL Norfolk next season. Barberio has the offensive mindset and talent to be a successful pro. He’ll need a couple years honing his own-zone skills before flirting with a possible spot in the NHL.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had a goal and an assist in the game and played worthy of a prospect expected to go in the upper portion of the top-10 in this summer’s draft. Gormley Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, 0 PIM. Meanwhile, Windsor's Cam Fowler, a defenseman expected to be taken just before the Lightning pick, scored his first of the tournament in the Moncton game. He's 1-3-4 after three games.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-16-10

Brandon Wheat Kings 4 vs. Moncton Wildcats 0
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Moncton fell to 0-2 in round robin play, the victim Sunday of playing an embarrassed host-city squad fresh off a 9-3 loss to Windsor. Speaking of the defending champs, Moncton next faces Windsor on Tuesday in a must-win game. Barberio got caught pinching a few times, two of which resulted in Brandon goals going the other way. He continues to log significant ice time for the Wildcats.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had an even rating in the game. He was the subject of a Sportsnet feature in which he said former Lightning draft pick and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards has been a huge influence on his career thus far. Both are P.E.I. natives. Gormley Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-15-10

Calgary Hitmen 5 vs. Moncton Wildcats 4
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (roughing)
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Calgary came back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to steal a win in the Memorial Cup opener for both teams. The game winner came when a shot around the boards hit a partition and bounced to Moncton goalie Nicola Riopel, who didn’t see Hitmen forward Tyler Shattock coming around the net. Shattock banged in the loose puck. Barberio played a strong game, logging a large amount of ice time and created a few chances in the offensive zone. Moncton next plays tournament host Brandon Sunday afternoon on NHL Network.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had an assist. The Sportsnet announcers couldn't stop talking about his poise, and at one time said he'd play 10+ years in the NHL. Gormley Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 2-15-17, +14, 4 PIM.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-10-10

QMJHL

St. John Sea Dogs 4 @ Moncton Wildcats 7
QMJHL Finals, Game 6. Moncton wins Best of 7 Series 4-2
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Moncton won their second President’s Cup (2006) by defeating top-seed and provincial rival St. John 7-4 in Game 6 to win the series 4-2. The Wildcats now advance to the 2010 Memorial Cup in Brandon, Manitoba, where they will open against WHL champion Calgary on Saturday. Windsor (OHL) and Brandon (host) will also be participating. Barberio was scoreless in Game 6 despite the Wildcats’ seven goals, but still finished as the playoff leading scorer among defensemen by three points. Moncton’s Gabriel Bourque (Predators 5/09) won playoff MVP, thanks in part to his eight goals in the Finals. Barberio finished the finals with seven assists and a plus-four rating. He is the only current Lightning draftee to be participating in the 2010 Memorial Cup.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, was scoreless and plus-2 in Game 6. Gormley Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 2-15-17, +14, 4 PIM.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-8-10

QMJHL

Moncton Wildcats 5 @ St. John Sea Dogs 1
QMJHL Finals, Game 5. Moncton leads Best of 7 Series 3-2
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 20 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Moncton earned their biggest win of the year thus far, knocking off top-seeded St. John on the road to take a 3-2 series lead in the QMJHL Finals. The Wildcats are one win away from a league championship and joining WHL champion Calgary, OHL champion Windsor, and host Brandon at the 2010 Memorial Cup. Barberio’s two assists upped his lead in the playoff scoring race among defensemen to three points over St. John’s Simon Despres (Penguins 1/09). Game 6 is Monday in Moncton.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, was scoreless and even in Game 4. He had 2 PIM and 1 shot on goal. Gormley Playoff Totals: 20 GP, 2-15-17, +12, 4 PIM.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-7-10

QMJHL

St. John Sea Dogs 3 @ Moncton Wildcats 2 (OT)
QMJHL Finals, Game 4. Best of 7 Series tied 2-2
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff Totals: 19 GP, 5-15-20, +7, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Moncton came back from a 2-0 deficit, but the Sea Dogs won in the overtime thriller 3-2 to tie the series at two games apiece. Barberio went scoreless for the first time in three games, and it was a cross-ice pass in the Moncton zone between him and Brandon Gormley that was intercepted and ended up in the back of the Wildcats net for St. John’s second goal – a shorthanded marker they’d like to have back. The pivotal Game 5 will be played in St. John Saturday.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, was scoreless and minus-2 in Game 4. Gormley Playoff Totals: 19 GP, 2-15-17, +12, 2 PIM.

Bolts at World Championships

This week it was announced Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admiral Richard Panik will represent Slovakia at the 2010 World Hockey Championship being held May 7-23 in Germany, reports the Belleville Bulls, Panik's former OHL team. Panik previously represented Slovakia at the past two World Junior Hockey Championships.

Fellow Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admiral Vladimir Mihalik is also suiting up for Slovakia, who lost 2-0 to Latvia in exhibition play earlier this week. Lightning property Martins Karsums scored for Latvia.

Panik led Slovakia in scoring at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship with six goals and two assists in six games played. At the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship, Panik recorded two goals and five points in seven games played. He also led Slovakia in scoring at the 2008 World Under 18 Hockey Championship.

Panik was acquired by the Bulls in January in a trade with the Windsor Spitfires. In 27 games played with Belleville, Panik scored 12 times while adding 11 assists and 36 penalty minutes. Following the conclusion of his season with the Bulls, Panik joined the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals where he earned one assist in five games played.

The Martin, Slovakia native was selected in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lightning representatives at the 2010 World Championships include:

Kirill Gotovets, D, Belarus
Steven Stamkos, C, Canada
Steve Downie, W, Canada
Martins Karsums, W, Latvia
Vasily Koshechkin, G, Russia
Vladimir Mihalik, D, Slovakia
Richard Panik, C/W, Slovakia
Johan Harju, C/W, Sweden
Victor Hedman, D, Sweden
Mike Lundin, D, USA

Players to watch:

Nino Neiderreiter, W, Switzerland: A strong possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in this summer's NHL draft.
Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev, W, Kazakhstan: Rumors have linked the 26 year-old to the Lightning. Could be a free agent signing.

Former Lightning draft picks in the tournament:

Evgeni Artyukhin, W, Russia
Marek Kvapil, W, Czech Republic
Ilya Solarev, W, Kazakhstan
Alexander Svitov, C, Russia

Syndicate content