Luca Not in Lightning's Plans

BoltProspects has learned 2007 third round pick Luca Cunti is no longer property of the Tampa Bay Lightning. A club official has confirmed Cunti's rights have been relinquished by the team. Cunti, who can play both wing and center, is currently competing in the Traverse City, Michigan prospects tournament on a free agent tryout agreement with the Minnesota Wild. Superbly skilled, Cunti made his CHL debut last season for the Rimouski Oceanic, where he started slowly before finishing the regular season with back-to-back hat tricks for the Oceanic. In total, he accumulated 20 goals and 25 assists in the regular season while playing on the third line and missing several games due to injury. He went on to post nine points (four goals) in 13 playoff and Memorial Cup tournament games. Upon being drafted in 2007, Cunti made the jump to North America and attempted to play for St. Cloud State University, but the NCAA Clearinghouse would not grant him amateur status because of professional games played in his native Switzerland. As a result, Cunti missed several weeks of action while waiting on the NCAA. He eventually joined the Chicago Steel of the USHL, where he had 32 points in 34 games. No one can deny Cunti’s world class skating ability, speed, or puck skills, however he showed little to nothing in the grit department, shying away from contact and battles along the walls. He was a “swing for the fences” draft pick made by then Lightning GM Jay Feaster, with the hope Cunti’s skating and raw skills would outshine the black marks on his scouting report. That never happened. Or hasn’t yet, rather. With Feaster now gone, the new management group had the chance to sign Cunti this offseason and didn’t, and though the Lightning could maintain his rights for at least the next few years, they have passed on overseeing the development of this prospect. Cunti’s playing style fits the European game nearly perfectly and it’s likely he’ll eventually find his way back to Switzerland, where he’ll have a fine professional career.