Lightning Sign Top-Ranked Prospect

(Lightning release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Cal Foote to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Foote, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, played in 60 regular season games for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League this season, recording 19 goals and 70 points. He led all Rockets blue-liners for goals, assists and points, while also ranking second overall on the team for plus/minus with a plus-31 rating. Foote also appeared in four playoff games as the Rockets lost to the Tri-City Americans in the first round of the WHL playoffs. He was second on the team for points with six.

The Denver, Colorado native has skated in 202 WHL regular season games during three seasons with Kelowna, recording 33 goals and 163 points with a plus-86 rating. He also notched 10 power-play goals. Foote has played in 36 post-season games with the Rockets, registering three goals and 22 points.

Foote helped Team Canada to the Gold Medal in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships. He played in seven games during the tournament and dished out three assists.

The 19-year-old was drafted by the Lightning in the first round, 14th overall, of the 2017 NHL Draft.

BP Commentary:

The signing of Foote was always a given considering he is a prized prospect (we rank him No. 1) and Yzerman reportedly refused to part with him at the trade deadline. The surprise is that his junior career is over this soon. Kelowna was not supposed to lose to Tri-City, let alone get swept. Alas, Kelowna's pain is Syracuse's gain as Foote will immediately join the AHL Crunch heading into the playoffs.

Foote is a righty, 2-way defenseman who's like his father, Adam, in that he's an intelligent backliner. He doesn't have his father's physicality (few do), but he's better at moving the puck. Cal is old enough where he can start next season in the AHL, though he could push for time on the big club ala Sergachev this year. That's a question that will be answered by depth and opportunity next year, and is also a question for later. For now, Foote helps solidify a Crunch blueline that has helped Syracuse to seven wins in their last eight games.

As to where Foote fits in, he likely will start on the third pair on the right, behind fellow righties Jamie McBain and Erik Cernak. Syracuse has already assigned righty Matthew Spencer to the ECHL to get him more playing time. That conveniently opens up a spot for Foote. He'll compete with Ben Thomas for that spot. Thomas was a surprise success story last year but has had his ups and downs this season.