One of the things we've seen repeatedly in the Yzerman-Murray drafts is the penchant to spend a pick or two on players with the potential to immediately impact the Syracuse Crunch. Twice Head Amateur Scout Al Murray has spent first round picks on older first-time draft-eligible players (Namestnikov and DeAngelo) that could be fast tracked to the AHL after just one additional junior season. With later round draftees Cedric Paquette and Henri Ikonen, Murray once again dipped into the 19-year-old pool, allowing Syracuse to benefit from them have quicker access to the professional development pipeline. We've also seen Murray draft three players that were basically draft-and-sign guys (Ondrej Palat, Kristers Gudlevskis, and Cameron Darcy) that were eligible to immediately slot into the AHL after being drafted. Gudlevskis (pictured) was drafted out of Europe, and while Darcy just wasn't quite ready last year, the expectation when he selected was that he'd transition immediately to Syracuse or ECHL Florida. In this article, I'll first highlight some of the one-and-done players from Pete Choquette's 2015 Bolt Prospects Draft Review, and I'll also throw out at least five players to keep your eye on in the later rounds as potential draft-and-sign guys that could help the Crunch this fall.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2015 season has come to a close in mid-June, leaving precious little time for us here at Bolt Prospects to get you caught up for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Before we do, though, lets take a moment to reflect on just how important the draft and the minor league developmental system have been to the Lightning's success thus far. The team climbed the mountain all the way to the Stanley Cup Final this year, and while they didn't get all the way to the summit, they got a peek at the promised land largely on the strength of draft picks and other prospects who came of age in this organization.
Looking at all the players who saw time in the 2015 NHL Playoffs, there were 13 Bolt Prospects alumni and three current Bolt Prospects on a roster of 24 players that saw time in the postseason. Of those 16, 11 came to the Lightning via the NHL Entry Draft with Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown, and Andrej Sustr coming via free agency, and Ben Bishop and Jonathan Marchessault coming to the team via trade. So, nearly half of the team that came within an eyelash of winning it all this season came to the team through the draft. This event in late June matters. A lot.
Name: Cameron Darcy
Weight: 192 lbs
Club: Cape Breton QMJHL
Well seasoned overage prospect has taken the long route through North American junior hockey on the way to being drafted. Darcy's stops include playing with the Dexter School in Massachussetts prep hockey, the USNTDP, Northeastern University, the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, and Cape Breton of the QMJHL. Along the way, he won a U18 WJC Gold Medal with Team USA. This year, he led the Screaming Eagles in scoring and plays a balanced all-around game. Plays a pro-style, north-south, shoot-first style of hockey. Above average hands in tight.
Needs to improve his skating and his upper body strength.
Checking liner and minor league depth.
Alex Killorn Lite
Name: Cristiano DiGiacinto
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 186 lbs
Club: Windsor (OHL)
Mean, agitating winger gets under his opponent's skin. Has some ability to pass and shoot the puck, but his primary task is to get the other team off their game. Classic lower line checker is at his best when the other team is trying to strangle him.
Late bloomer struggled to be picked up by a junior team until this past season. Below average skater, particularly in terms of his acceleration.
Fourth line agitator
Name: Ben Thomas
Weight: 190 lbs
Club: Calgary (WHL)
Assertive, aggressive player at both ends of the ice. Strong upper body with a high compete level. Excellent puck handler with the much coveted righty shot who loves to jump in the play. Loves to jump in the play, but responsible enough not to get caught for odd man rushes the other way. High compete level.
Poor backward skater with mediocre lateral agility compounded by poor reads and hockey sense in the defensive third.
Projection: #5 defenseman
Comparisons: Cody Franson
Name: Brayden Point
Weight: 160 lbs
Club: Moose Jaw (WHL)
Dynamic puckhandler with top notch creativity and playmaking skills. Well above average hockey sense and soft hands in tight around the net. Shifty, darting, hard to catch and even harder to stop.
Tiny, and at 160 lbs lacks the strength to stand up to the rigors of the pro game. Questionable whether his frame can support putting the bulk on he needs.
Second line scoring center or AHL/European league scoring champ.
Name: Johnathan MacLeod
Weight: 200 lbs
Lots of pro tools. Big, mobile rearguard has NHL athleticism and has barely scratched his potential. Shows willingness to take the body and a big point shot. Will develop in a strong program at Boston University.
Raw. Very raw. Positionally unpolished in the defensive zone. Unrefined offensively and can tend to make a sloppy outlet pass.
Project defenseman with top-4 ceiling.
Name: Dominik Masin (pronounced "Machine")
Weight: 189 lbs
Club: Slavia Praha (CZE)
Mobile skater with a nice, projectable frame that will fill out even more. Already strong and well schooled positionally. Manages his gap control well and closes out his marks physically. Shows some ability to handle the puck and jump into the play and is fairly unflappable under duress.
Had a slow start to the 2013-2014 campaign and performed better overall for country than he did for club. Although he has some offensive tools, he's not a power play quarterback at this point in his career. Sometimes struggles giving and receiving passes.
Name: Anthony DeAngelo
Weight: 175 lbs
Club: Sarnia (OHL)
Wow, here's a definitive swing for the fences.
With DeAngelo, the talent is unquestionable. The Philadelphia native ripped up the OHL with 15 goals and 71 points in 51 games this season. Nobody questions that, on talent alone, DeAngelo was one of the 10-15 best players in this year's class. His skating and puckhandling skills allow him to dismantle opposing defenses and gain the offensive zone with ease when he chooses to carry it. He's also got excellent vision and passing ability, and runs a power play with ruthless efficiency and a heavy righty shot. Indeed, Red Line Report ranked DeAngelo the 7th best pure skater and 13th best pure goal scorer in this draft, the latter of which is surely worth a double take given that DeAngelo is a defenseman.
The negatives, athletically, center on DeAngelo's stature, which leads to his being overwhelmed down low in the defensive zone, and his tendency to surrender neutral zone turnovers at bad times while pushing the pace. As a consequence, he posted a cringe-worthy -34 rating this season with the Sting. And yet, as cringe-worthy as that is, it pales in comparison to the red flags that surround DeAngelo off the ice. DeAngelo hasn't exactly mastered the team concept, as evidenced by his verbal abuse of a teammate with slurs that led to a suspension by the OHL. This is a young man who has been branded by many as a me-first player who the Lightning are gambling they can reorient into a productive member of the organization. If they can, Red Line Report projects him as a tremendously skilled offensive d-man and power play quarterback with comparisons to a lite version of Paul Coffey. If they can't get DeAngelo to coexist within the team concept, he'll be a bust, and one you have to worry will drag down teammates with him. Hey coaches: this is why they pay you the big bucks.
Highly skilled offensive defenseman and power-play QB
Same kind of game as Paul Coffey but, you know, not Paul Coffey
Pete Choquette contributed to this article
Looking Back on Day One, Looking Ahead to Day Two
Remember how we said in our pre-draft preview there's an age-old question at draft time about whether a team drafts for need versus the best player available (BPA)? Remember how we said that, in all likelihood, the team that selected Jonathan Drouin over Seth Jones when it clearly needed a righty d-man would surely take the BPA? You do? Yeah, well, so much for that. The Lightning reverted back to the needs-based approach they employed in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft when they selected Slater Koekkoek, despite red flags on the health of Koekkoek's shoulder. Tonight, holding the 19th overall pick, the Lightning again made a needs-based pick and again chose to bypass some considerable red flags: