Prospect Camp Wrap-Up: Defensemen

We seem to be pretty well stacked here. I projest that we have 5 above average defensemen in this group plus a couple of others that could fill 3rd pair roles. Top 2 pair players: Matt Smaby - There's nothing spectacular about his game. It all scores at average or above. He's sound, smart tough, hard-working and he can move a little. Probably would benefit from and interim step through Springfield, then be here by the 1st of the year to stay. Vladimir Mihalik - He was the 3rd youngest player on the ice (4th counting Bartanus). #1 asset - good feet. Guys with good feet have the ability to develop their entire game. He shows excellent mobility, a decent shot and if he only sets a pick on you, you get hit hard. Needs to get better defensively in front of the net. 2 years away. Kevin Quick - The GM is touting him and trying to quicken the time table from 4 to 5 years down to something like 3 - 3 1/2. 2nd pair likely: Mike Egener - He'll be a fan favorite with his hitting. predominantly a defensive guy in the Sarich/Pratt mold (at their best)he will present a moderate upside offensively to those guys. Seems to want it. Could arrive any time. Andy Rogers - Glad he didn't make the jump last year. Several fans would have crucified him. He has that rawness of havung not played crucial minutes in big games. He will be prone to lapses probably for an extended period of time. Nonetheless, he shows good feet also and will become a solid stay-at-home guy. Offensive side of the game does not appear as promising. 6/7 Guy: Jay Rosehill - Could be a 6/7 guy on a long term basis. Only likely to rise higher on noncontending teams. Peak value would be about an average performing Pratt. Chance NHL Prospects: PJ Atherton - He's almost 24... clock's ticking. Upside is 3rd pair. I doubt the Lightning will sign him at the end of this season. Mike Lundin - Offensive game looks to be somewhat like a Bill Houlder. Will move the puck alot, put up some assists, but not a lot of goals. Needs improved strength to handle the defensive end. Positioning was sound though. Decent chance of the Lightning signing him to 1 year beyond this to see how he pans out post college. Brady Greco - ???...??? He's 23, his clock is also ticking. He's bigger than the 188 he's listed at and will need to put on more. Not sure. I'll try to catch if he makes it to Brandon. Jon D'Aversa - This is the guy I liked the most of the next 3 because of his big play knack defensively. Will move the puck effeciently, will put up some points. Needs upper body strength. Got Springfield camp invite. Career Minor Leaguers: Clayton Barthel - This is the one Lightning personnel like. Got the TC invite. Showed offensive upside by moving well at the point to get his shots through. Probably not as strong a shot as any of the top 5, but he has a knack for making it work. Don Grover - Brings his lunch pail. No special tools. Reminiscient of many career minor league D'men. Invited to Springfield. Low Level Minors: Kyle Deck - In and out of the lineup, showed very little. D partners seemed to try to cover for him a little. Next up: Lightning controlled forwards.

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Lundin

I believe Lundin would have to get a 2-year by rule, although it seems like they may have already jettisoned Toffey somehow. That's a question we need to ask the organization. He's got nowhere near the size and strength Houlder had. I know Chad loves him and thinks he's a poor man's Ranger, I personally wouldn't sign him. I don't like Greco's chances of staying in this organization past this year. He's a step slow and he's still too skinny (and thus injury prone). His first games early in the season last year he took a hellacious beating. I give him credit that he kept getting up, but my goodness, at some point the young man has to learn to defend himself. Spin away from the hit. Duck it. Do something. I love Atherton. If effort counts for anything they'll sign him. I think he's the Nolan Pratt of this group, the guy who could make it as a #5/6 in the league because he just works so hard. He's got a fart for a brain and in his ATO he tried too hard to prove there's an offensive side to his game and was overhandling the puck, but he has a heart as big as a house. You keep guys like PJ Atherton under your roof in my opinion. Bear in mind Rosehill has played very little hockey for a guy his age between the AJHL and his one year of college. Other than Quick and maybe Mihalik, he had the least game experience of anyone at this camp, so it's hard to draw any long term conclusions. What scares me is that he had so much less confidence and was so much more tentative at the end of his rookie year than when he started it. This is a big year for him. The one guy we're all missing here is Dane Crowley. We weren't told exactly why he couldn't come to camp but he will be at TC. He's probably got one more year with Swift Current and then they will have to make a decision on him as well.

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