Draft

Third Round, Sixty-Sixth Overall

Name: Radko Gudas
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.00
Weight: 189 lbs
Born: 6/5/1990, Prague, Czech Republic
Last Team: Everett (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 91 (North American Skaters), RLR 147 (Overall), THN NR (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Everett (WHL), 65 GP, 7-30-37, +45, 151 PIM
Everett (WHL Playoffs), 3 GP, 0-2-2, E, 4 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Ultra competitive prick to play against." -Red Line Report

Strengths:
An older prospect who turned 20 in June, Gudas has earned a reputation as one of the biggest hitters in this draft class. He competes hard, and despite his small frame he loves to take the body. Red Line rates Gudas the third biggest pest in this draft class and compares his demeanor to that of a pit bull. Was named a Western Conference Second Team All-Star this season, partly because he also has the ability to move the puck resonably well and he has decent mobility.

Weaknesses:
Stickhandling is considered poor and his decision-making with the puck needs refinement. Because he's two years older than most of the prospects in this draft, what you see is what you get, to an extent. He's not going to get much bigger than his current size, although his tenacity compensates for his stature.

Projection:
Because of his age, the Lightning could sign him immediately and send him to Norfolk of the AHL. He's got a lot of experience, having played 14 games for Kladno in the Czech Extraliga two years ago and 65 games in the Czech second tier league with Beroun between 2006 and 2009. He also was a training camp invitee of the Kings last Fall, so he won't be entering his first NHL training camp. With one or two seasons of refinement, he could make it to the NHL as an energetic third pairing blueliner and world class pest.

Third Round, Sixty-Third Overall

Name: Brock Beukeboom
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.01
Weight: 202 lbs
Born: 4/1/1992, Greenwich, CT
Last Team: Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 41 (North American Skaters), RLR 68 (Overall), THN 49 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Sault Ste Marie (OHL), 66 GP, 7-19-26, -9, 64 PIM
SaulT Ste Marie (OHL Playoffs), 1 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"Even though he plays a physical, competitive game, he has less grit tha his father, but more talent." -THN

Strengths:
Buekeboom has good bloodlines, with his father being the son of former Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom. He's got good straight line mobility, likes to take the body, and has a cannon shot that he's deployed on the power play for Sault this season. Cleans up the front of his net.

Weaknesses:
Beukeboom is coachable and a quick learner, but he still needs to refine his decision making. Prone to move the puck blindly or hold onto it too long. His shot takes a long time to release, as well, and he sometimes struggles with accuracy. Needs to work on his pivots.

Projections:
Beukeboom likely will need a couple of years in junior to develop before the Lightning sign him and bring him into the pro ranks. He has offensive upside, but it remains to be seen if it develops over the next couple of years. Red Line Report projects Beukeboom to be a solid number five defenseman who plays a style like Francois Beauchemin.

Thoughts on Day One

Wow, what a night. Things went to plan for three picks and then everything descended into slow moving chaos. The Blue Jackets took the guy I, personally, thought the Lightning would end up with at the fourth pick, the Islanders took the guy half the internet thought was going to the Lightning with the fifth pick, and then the Lightning decided not to take the guy everyone thought they would take with the sixth pick, as Brandon Gormley and Cam Fowler spiraled down the draft board in the mild hockey equivalent of an Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn draft free fall.

What to make of Brett Connolly, though? There's absolutely no doubt his athleticism and skill are world class, or at least they were prior to his injuries. Connolly's agent wouldn't allow teams to perform an MRI on prior to the draft to verify its soundness, so one wonders how the Lightning made an informed decision about it. Between his hips and some talk of structural weakness in his hand, I seriously wonder if the Lightning have drafted a guy who will end up being a part time player like Buffalo's Tim Connolly. Adding to my fears was a post-draft interview on TSN that did nothing to disspell whispers I've heard about Connolly's attitude. He looked annoyed and bored, all at the same time, and I'm wondering what is going on in his head. Is he going to carry a chip on his shoulder into the rest of the offseason and training camp to show the world that not only are his hips healthy, but that he was indeed the best player in this draft class? Or is Connolly already a little burned out by the scrutiny that comes with being a premiere prospect? Seriously, after watching the interview and after my making a big deal of how badly Connolly came across, the BoltProspects staff reviewed several pieces of interview footage, and we've come to the unnerving conclusion Connolly may be incapable of emoting genuine happiness.

Smile, man. You just were selected in the top ten of the NHL draft.

First Round, Sixth Overall

Name: Brett Connolly
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.02
Weight: 181
Born: 5/2/92, Prince George, BC
Last Team: Prince George (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 3 (NA Skaters), ISS 11 (Skaters), RLR 13 (Overall), THN 4 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Prince George (WHL), 16 GP, 10-9-19, -3, 8 PIM
Canada (U18 WJC), 4 GP, 1-0-1, E, 10 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"(Connolly) makes an impact on the game without looking like he's even breaking a sweat." - Red Line Report

Strengths:
Prior to his hips injuries, Connolly was a blend of great top end speed, agility, and world class hockey sense. He finds seams in the offensive zone and buries his chances with ruthless efficiency. He's also an underrated penalty killer.

Weaknesses:
Injuries. Connolly has had serious hip flexor problems in both of his hips which cost him much of his draft season, and there's some question if his skating ability will ever recover. He's also slight of build and needs to get bigger to win one-on-one puck battles. He's not terrible defensively, but his game in the defensive third does need refinement.

Projection:
If he's healthy, the Lightning have a first line scoring winger for the next ten years. Red Line compares Connolly to Sharks star Patrick Marleau in terms of his skills package. But, it's also a possibility that Connolly's injury problems never go away and he's a part time player a la Buffalo's Tim Connolly. High risk. High reward.

BoltProspects Mock Draft

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft starts Friday night with round one and BoltProspects has decided to throw its hat into the ring with our own first round mock draft, including a carefully placed page break to force readers to hit the "Read More" button! Just a reminder, BoltProspects will be holding its annual draft chats on Friday and Saturday during the draft on the BoltProspects message board chat room. To access the chat room you have to register for the message board, which is free. In addition, don't forget to follow BoltProspects' Twitter page for the best single sentence Lightning draft news around. Now that the shameless advertising is aside, here's the mock draft. Enjoy!

1. Edmonton Oilers: LW Taylor Hall, Windsor (OHL)
There will be very little suspense when Edmonton takes the podium Friday night. Hall gives the Oilers a winger with explosive, world-class speed and great finishing ability.

2. Boston Bruins: C Tyler Seguin, Plymouth (OHL)
It's disgusting a team with as much talent as Boston does gets to add a Joe Sakic-type centerman into the mix. Brian Burke should be kicking himself for trading this pick.

3. Florida Panthers: RW Brett Connolly, Prince George (WHL)
We suspected Florida needed a scorer at this pick even before the Horton trade. Now? They roll the dice Connolly's hips will hold up and they get a Patrick Marleau-type talent.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: D Cam Fowler, Windsor (OHL)
This pick just as easily could be Gormley, considering the Blue Jackets like QMJHL prospects and his pairing partner was a Blue Jackets property, but Fowler's power play mastery is the deciding factor that places him in Columbus.

5. New York Islanders: D Erik Gudbranson, Kingston (OHL)
The Islanders have taken forwards with seven of their last eight first round picks. Now they grab a shut down defenseman with big time leadership potential.

11 for 6: Ryan Johansen

Today's entry brings to a close our 11 for 6 series on the eleven draft prospects we feel are most likely to go to the Lightning at the sixth overall pick. Just as a reminder, BoltProspects will be holding its annual draft chat on Friday and Saturday over the course of the two days of the draft in the BoltProspects message board chat room. Registration for the message board is free and will get you access to the chat room, so if you aren't already signed up for the BoltProspects message board, you might want to get that out of the way today to be ready for Friday night.

In addition, don't forget to check back with BoltProspects and with the BoltProspects Twitter page over the course of the week for the latest draft news and rumors. Finally, as a part of draft week coverage, BoltProspects will be issuing its own first round mock draft later this week. It's one of our favorite times of the year on BoltProspects so be sure to check back often to stay informed with what's going on.

11 for 6: Mikael Granlund

Name: Mikael Granlund
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.10
Weight: 180
Born: 2/26/92, Oulu, Finland
Last Team: HIFK (FIN)
Rankings: CSS 1 (European Skaters), ISS 14 (Skaters), RLR 3 (Overall), THN 10 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
HIFK (FIN), 43 GP, 13-27-40, +11, 2 PIM
HIFK (FIN) Playoffs, 6 GP, 1-5-6, +1, 0 PIM
Finland (U20 WJC), 6 GP, 1-6-7, -4, 4 PIM
Finland (U18 WJC), 6 GP, 4-9-13, E, 4 PIM

Like Skinner, we at BoltProspects suspect there is a lot of late upward movement in the draft stock of Finland’s Mikael Granlund that isn’t being picked up by many in the media and we suspect he’s a solid top ten pick. Despite scoring an unheard of 40 points in 43 games in the SM-liiga at seventeen and eighteen years old, many teams downgraded Granlund because of a pedestrian performance at the U20 World Junior Championships where he had 1 goal and 7 points in 6 games. We find it hard to believe that an over point-a-game pace in a tournament where most of the other players are one to two years older could be considered pedestrian, but that was what was depressing Granlund’s value. All that changed at the U18 tournament in Belarus, though, where Granlund dominated to the tune of 4 goals and 13 points in 6 games. Evidently an over two points-a-game pace was more to the scouting community’s liking. Granlund has been universally compared to former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu in that he’s small and doesn’t have top end speed but he’s a fierce and smart competitor. Granlund’s hockey sense and vision are off the charts and he could go as high as third overall when all is said and done. He's a pure playmaker who might be a natural setup man to some of the Lightning's potential young finishers like Johan Harju and Carter Ashton. He’d be a good fit for the Lightning, which needs more playmakers in the system, and if the club could get around Granlund’s compulsory military commitments in Finland, they could try to start the forward’s pro development in Norfolk of the AHL right away.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter
11 for 6: C/RW, Jeff Skinner
11 for 6: RW, Vladimir Tarasenko

11 for 6: Vladimir Tarasenko

Name: Vladimir Tarasenko
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.11
Weight: 202
Born: 12/13/1991, Novosibirsk, Russia
Last Team: Novosibirsk (RUS)
Rankings: CSS 2 (European Skaters), ISS 4 (Skaters), RLR 4 (Overall), THN 14 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Novosibirsk (RUS), 42 GP, 13-11-24, 18 PIM
Russia (U20 WJC), 6 GP, 4-1-5, -1, 2 PIM

The same fears that surround fellow Russian-born prospect Alex Burmistrov swirl around Vladimir Tarasenko: what NHL team will have the guts to take a prospect in the top ten who, if he isn’t an NHL scoring liner after two or three years, may just leave for the KHL and never come back? If his name were Tyler O’Malley and he was from Brampton, Ontario, Tarasenko would likely be a top five pick. Despite his lack of height, Tarasenko is very strong on his skates and is a powerful skater with great finishing ability. He's quick and elusive with all of the puck skills you would expect from a Russian prospect with a quick release and an untiring work ethic. His hockey sense in all zones is outstanding and he's a master of pouncing on loose pucks and burying them in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. Some scouts have gone so far as to call him a pocket-sized version of fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite playing modest minutes on the checking lines this season for Novosibirsk in the KHL, Tarasenko put up a very respectable 13 goals and 24 points in 42 games against grown men. That’s pretty darn good for an 18 year old playing in a league that is loaded with former NHLers and former prospects with AHL experience. It was so good, in fact, that Tarasenko got a look for the Russians at their last Euro Tour event of the year, which is a rare honor typically reserved only for young, future superstars of the Ovechkin and Kovalchuk ilk. Still, despite all those positives, do the Lightning have the stones to take a homerun cut by drafting Tarasenko? He could be the Malkin to Steven Stamkos’ Crosby, or he could be gone like a puff of smoke in the wind in three years time.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter
11 for 6: C/RW, Jeff Skinner

11 for 6: Jeff Skinner

Name: Jeff Skinner
Position: Center/Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.10
Weight: 187
Born: 5/18/92, Markham, ON
Last Team: Kitchener (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 34 (NA Skaters), ISS 15 (Skaters), RLR 7 (Overall), THN 25 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Kitchener (OHL), 64 GP, 50-40-90, +7, 72 PIM
Kitchener (OHL) Playoffs, 20 GP, 20-13-33, +3, 14 PIM

Here’s the real wild card of the top ten to fifteen picks of this draft: Jeff Skinner of Kitchener. The forward failed to gain much traction as a potential lottery pick despite potting 50 goals and 90 points for Kitchener this season in the OHL. Scouts have knocked Skinner’s size and his mediocre skating ability, but time and time again he’s shown good work ethic and a preternatural ability to read the play and get open to bury scoring chances. Despite that, it wasn’t until Skinner went crazy in the OHL playoffs by scoring 20 goals and 33 points in 20 games while coming within an eyelash of knocking off top prospect Taylor Hall’s Windsor team that he started to garner the respect of the scouting community. That performance has led to a lot of late movement toward Skinner, who came out of the same Markham Waxers program that produced another sniper by the name of Steven Stamkos. We at BoltProspects believe someone in the top ten will pull the trigger on Skinner and get a big time scorer, and it might even be the Lightning. Skinner's knack for putting points on the board and his willingness to play with surprising edge for such a small player have led to comparisons to former Lightning player and future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter

11 for 6: Nino Neiderreiter

Name: Nino Neiderreiter
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 6.02
Weight: 201
Born: 9/8/92, Chur, Switzerland
Last Team: Portland (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 12 (NA Skaters), ISS 9 (Skaters), RLR 8 (Overall), THN 8 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Portland (WHL), 65 GP, 36-24-60, +11, 68 PIM
Portland (WHL) Playoffs, 13 GP, 8-8-16, +1, 16 PIM
Switzerland (U20 WJC), 7 GP, 6-4-10, -2, 10 PIM

No one did more to help their draft stock at the U20 World Junior Championships than Nino Neiderreiter in his Superman-like performance for the tournament darling Swiss side. In the quarterfinals, Neiderreiter almost single handedly defeated a strong Russian team with a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, and he was eventually named a Tournament All-Star by the media for collecting 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games for the upstart hockey nation. Nino-mania quickly gripped the hockey world, but a pedestrian second half of the season for Neiderreiter has led many to re-examine the power forward and ask themselves whether they can truly value him as a top pick based on that performance alone. Neiderreiter plays a strong, North American style north-south game that has been compared to former NHL All-Star Brendan Shanahan. He posseses a quick, accurate shot and loves to take the body but he still needs to work on his first step acceleration, playmaking, and puckhandling skills. He’s among the youngest players in this draft class, which should afford him a little more time to fill the holes in his game, and yet he is already more physically mature than many of his contemporaries. He also stabilized his draft stock by snapping out of his second half trance well enough to score 8 goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games for the Winterhawks. But, the Lightning would still have to take a little bit of a gulp before drafting a player who seemed disinterested in junior hockey for half the year and who can’t be moved up to the pro ranks in the AHL right away. Or was it just that Niederreiter, who was no doubt used to playing a fewer number of games in Europe, hit a wall in the long grind of a full junior season? Both theories have been forwarded, but which one is true? His style of play is a good fit for the Lightning, who could use some more presence along the wall on the forecheck, but will he show the same intensity in Portland next year once this year’s U20 WJC’s are just a distant memory?

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly

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