Justin Keller

Basics

Type: 
Out of Organization
Position: 
Left Wing
Shoots/Catches: 
Left
Height: 
5.11
Weight: 
182
Born: 
03/04/1986
Hometown: 
Nelson, BC
Acquired: 
Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 8 (#245) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Last Team: 
Norfolk (AHL)
Projects As: 
Reserve forward
Prospect Ranking: 
17
Depth Chart Weight: 
-2

Draft Info

Draft Status: 
Drafted
Draft Year: 
2004
Draft Type: 
NHL Entry Draft
Drafted By: 
Tampa Bay Lightning
Round: 
8
Pick No.: 
245
Draft Team: 
Kelowna (WHL)

Contract

Contract Status: 
Signed
Waiver Status: 
Waiver Exempt
Signing Date: 
05/23/2006
Contract Length: 
3 years
Cap Number: 
$500 000
Contract End Year: 
2009
Contract End Status: 
RFA
Salary: 
$475 000

Bio

Awards: 

2005-2006

  • CHL - Canada Post Cup (Three stars) (shared with Alexander Radulov and Wojtek Wolski)
  • WHL - West First All-Star Team

History: 

Junior Career

Justin Keller, who went undrafted as a bantam, took the long way to get to major junior. Keller worked his way up through the ranks with the Penticton Panthers on the BCHL before earning a tryout with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL in the Fall of 2003. Keller not only made the team but he had an outstanding rookie season scoring 25 goals and 46 points in 72 games before scoring 4 goals and 9 points in 17 games during a magical playoff run which Keller himself capped with the winning goal in the Memorial Cup final. At season's end he was ranked the 132nd best North American skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Service and he was selected by the Lightning in the 8th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In the Fall he played for the Lightning in the 2004 Traverse City prospect tournament where he scored 1 goal in 3 games. In 2004-2005 Keller returned to Kelowna where he led the club in goals with 31 to go with 53 points in 72 games. In the playoffs Keller took his game to a new level scoring 12 goals and 22 points in 23 games as Kelowna advanced to the Memorial Cup for the third straight year. He once again played for the Lightning in the 2005 Traverse City prospect tournament scoring 4 goals in 4 games before attending his first training camp with the Lightning. After an uneventful camp he returned to Kelowna where he finished first in the WHL in goals and 5th in points en route to earning 1st Team All WHL Western Conference honors. He was also the Western Conference finalist for WHL Player of the Year.

Professional Career

Keller was signed by the Lightning on May 23, 2006. He began his rookie campaign after being assigned to Springfield of the AHL. Keller led all Falcons rookies in scoring with 13 goals and 24 points in 60 games to go with 26 penalty minutes and a -11 rating. Keller showed some improvement in his sophomore AHL campaign scoring 15 goals and 37 points in 70 games with 45 penalty minutes and a +7 rating. Keller was also named the Admirals' lone all-star representative for 2007-2008 replacing Kyle Wanvig, who had been called up to the NHL at the time, and an injured Norm Milley.

Scouting Report

Strengths: 

Keller is a pure goal-scorer, plain and simple. He has a shooter’s mentality and according to Kelowna coaches, has an NHL snap and slapshot to support it. He is a clutch performer, hard worker, and a good leader on and off the ice. Though not overly fast, the gritty winger is smart with and without the puck and has a great understanding for the offensive side of the game, but competes defensively.

Weaknesses: 

Keller will always be knocked for his small stature, though he hasn't missed a game in the rugged WHL in three seasons. Even if he wasn't as durable as he has proven to be, with the “new” NHL and the successes of players like Daniel Briere, Martin St. Louis, and Brian Gionta, a door has been opened wide for the smaller players like Keller to walk (or skate) through. Keller must work to improve his foot speed and continue to show his admirable work ethic, especially in high traffic areas. Though Keller has proven doubters wrong at the major junior level, battling through defensemen in the pros will be yet another challenge to overcome.

Projection: 

Keller projects as a scoring line sniper, if he makes it to the NHL, who will earn significant power play time. He is the type of leader who could one day wear a letter on his sweater in Tampa and be a fan favorite because of his character. That all hinges on whether Keller can prove he can score even despite the heightened physical play of the pro game. At the end of the day, Keller will have to show his intelligence and work ethic can overcome the fact that he simply does not have NHL caliber athleticism.

Statistics