Lightning Sign Dotchin to ELC

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Jake Dotchin to an entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Dotchin, 20, skated in 63 games with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 regular season, posting 11 goals and 36 points. He led the Colts for penalty minutes with 121 and was third with a plus-22 rating. He ranked second among defensemen on Barrie for power-play goals with six and first for shorthanded goals with two. The Cambridge, Ontario native has also appeared in 11 playoff games for the Colts, recording three goals and five points.

The 6-foot-3, 209-pound defenseman has played in 193 career OHL games over his three year junior career, collecting 18 goals and 77 points to go along with 279 penalty minutes. Dotchin set career-highs in 2013-14 for goals (11), assists (25) and points (36).

Dotchin was selected by the Lightning in the sixth round, 161st overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft.

BP Commentary:

Dotchin earned this contract with hard work, strategic improvement, and opportunity. When he was drafted, Dotchin was regarded as a possible diamond-in-the-rough as he hadn't had the ice time or power play opportunities to truly show what he was capable of. He wasn't getting those in Owen Sound and was eventually dealt to Barrie, which was the best thing for him. His game took off with the Colts as he was allowed to play on the power play and all game situations. His minutes went up, and so did his confidence and stats - without losing his physical play and high character.

Dotchin compares favorably to former Lightning defenseman Cory Sarich, who put up good numbers in his final year of juniors but settled into a stay-at-home role in the NHL. Dotchin, who will likely start his career in Syracuse or ECHL Florida next year, can reach that level in time. He's a fine depth option for the Lightning in the future and is an underrated player type for the organization. He probably won't see much power play time early as a pro, but like Radko Gudas in his final AHL season, he could see some time there as a righty.

Make no mistake, though, Dotchin's path to the NHL is his physical play coupled with responsible defensive coverage. If he can continue to improve on his outlet passes and skating speed, he could reach the NHL in time.

Dotchin is one of two rookie defensemen expected to be with the Crunch next season. Dylan Blujus should be joining him eventually. Blujus' North Bay Battalion are currently up 1-0 against Oshawa in the OHL Eastern Conference Finals.