Luca Cunti is just happy to be here.
Wearing a St. Cloud State hockey T-shirt, on Tuesday he began his assimilation with the rest of the Huskiesâ€™ freshmen.
A forward from Switzerland, Cunti attended his first class earlier in the day, then was one of the first to arrive for an afternoon workout at the National Hockey Center.
While eight other incoming recruits started school last week, Cunti is a late addition. He committed in July and it wasnâ€™t until little more than a week ago that he made the decision and processed the necessary paperwork in an effort to begin college this year instead of in 2008.
Heâ€™s still waiting for clearance by the NCAA, but expects to be able to play when the team opens the season next month.
To read the rest of this story, see the St. Cloud Times.
Earlier this week, Bolt Prospects was informed by the Lightning that 2007 third round pick Luca Cunti had been admitted to St. Cloud State University of the WCHA and he was set to arrive there Saturday. This is still confirmed.
However, the latest reports out of SCSU state that while he has been admitted, the coaching staff hasn't received the final okay from the NCAA that Cunti's eligible to play.
Considering Cunti is making the trek from Switzerland to join the Huskies, and his desire to play in North America this year is a priority (according to reports during the draft), it would seem that Cunti and his adviser, as well as the Lightning, have a pretty good idea final clearance may just be a formality.
Stay tuned. It appears this soap opera isn't over.
The Huskies are scheduled to begin their season at home October 12 against Canisius.
As the countdown to the start of the 2007 Traverse City (TC) Prospects Tournament finally comes to an end tomorrow, the future is now for many of the prospects making up the Lightningâ€™s 2007 TC squad.
Lightning 2007 draft pick Luca Cunti is not likely to play with St. Cloud State University of the WCHA this year. He was recently listed by a SCSU publication as being a commitment for 2008-2009, not this season, and his name was not appearing on the Chicago Steel (USHL) roster. Because of Cunti's late commitment, his arrival at SCSU this year was pending NCAA clearinghouse approval.
A WCHA blogger is now saying he's listed with Chicago, but he may be thinking of the Steel's protected list -- which is true. He's not on the roster on their web site.
We are currently awaiting official word from the Lightning, but at this point it looks as though Cunti will be in Chicago this year and SCSU next year. He could return to Europe this year, but that doesn't appear to be his intention.
Long time readers of the website know that the staff here at Bolt Prospects has a bit of a chequered past with that other hockey prospects website, Hockeysfuture. Without getting to deep into the specifics, after years of myself, Chad and Tim working the Lightning page on that website we as a group had a falling out with management over what seemed to us to be obvious bias in their decision making process against us and the Lightning's prospects. It wasn't something that happened overnight and we didn't leave all at once but eventually Tim had the idea to start a blog and we seized on it and started making plans. The rest, as they say, is history.
Long time readers of this website also know that we've never been afraid to call out Hockeysfuture for what we've seen as continuing bias in the product over at that website. One of the most obvious points of contention we had with HF was their refusal for almost two years to assign a writer to cover the Lightning's prospects. It wasn't until shortly after the Lightning internet community responded strongly to an incident in which a high ranking HF writer called prospects Blair Jones and Justin Keller trash and Bolt Prospects' subsequent smackdown of said writer that HF finally conceded and assigned longtime writer and all around standup guy Phil Laugher to cover the team's prospects. Laugher earned his street cred with the Lightning fan base when he apologized publicly to Lightning fans about a year prior when HF released a set of rankings that had NHL regular Paul Ranger 9th in the organization, soon-to-be NHL regular Nick Tarnasky 19th in the organization, and Keller and Russian superprospect Vasily Koshechkin out of the rankings altogether.
Under Laugher, it has been our website's opinion that the product on HF has improved by leaps and bounds. Considering he's been struggling upstream against an online editor who clearly has ulterior motives, their site has actually become tolerable over the last year. As such, we've had an unofficial truce with HockeysFuture over the past 14 or so months. Unfortunately, Phil didn't write the horribly divorced from reality draft review HF just put out for the Lightning, a piece so bad I got multiple e-mails from the Bolt Prospects staff within moments of their reading it. Considering their strong negative reaction to the article, I'm afraid we as a site have to respond.
Now, admittedly I have no idea who Elisa Hatch is. And let me just say ahead of time, it's not her fault Hockeysfuture's editors and management decided to put her in a difficult situation and its not her fault they offered her so little editorial support in the course of writing this article. Nearest as I can tell this is Hatch's first solo article at HF and unfortunately, without knowledgable editors who actually care about the subject matter, the quality of the work suffered.
Bottom line: several of the contentions of the article are diametrically opposed to the professional opinions of several reputable scouting outlets including the Lightning's scouting staff, THN, Red Line Report and the NHL Central Scouting Service. You don't have to take it from us that the article is flawed. Take it from those other professionals.
According to Chris Heisenberg's 2007 NCAA Hockey Recruiting Page, Lightning 2007 3rd round pick Luca Cunti has pledged his commitment to the St. Cloud State University Huskies of the WCHA for next season.
The St. Cloud Times reported on Saturday that Cunti did indeed commit to the Huskies. However, this is presuming Cunti can negotiate all the paperwork for the NCAA Clearinghouse in time.
In the event he doesnâ€™t join the Huskies this fall, he remains on the protected list for the USHLâ€™s Chicago Steel.
Three players drafted by the Lightning last month have been placed on protected lists for USHL clubs.
Sunday, July 1 was a USA Hockey roster cut down date and USHL teams, which had been carrying 30-man active rosters at the time, had to cut down to 25 players. USHL teams will be allowed to carry 25 players until the final reduction date of September 30 when they have to drop down to their 23-man active roster.
Lightning 2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius was selected by the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft today. Helenius, a 6-3 goaltender who missed practically all of last season with Ilves Jr. in Finland because of a shoulder injury, was taken with the 46th overall pick.
â€œWe spoke to Tampa Bay a year ago about adding Helenius to our team but the player was not ready to come at that time,â€ Seattle General Manager Russ Farwell said in a story on the Thunderbirdsâ€™ web site.
â€œThere is a good chance this year he could come over and we felt we would take that chance because this combination would give us the best 1-2 goalie combination in our division.â€
Remind me next year to order Red Line three weeks before draft day instead of two...
Anyway, looking through Red Line's draft guide there are a lot of positives for the Lightning coming out of this draft. Here's how they had the picks the Lightning took rated and, where given, the short blurb about each:
#30 Dana Tyrell: "Love his speed, smarts, and competitiveness."
#54 Luca Cunti: "It's a team game, Luca. It's not all about you."
#62 Alexander Killorn: "Blazing fast playmaker. Stock rising like gas prices."
#100 Mitch Fadden: "Dynamic scorer should've been taken last year."
#160 Matt Marshall: "Bull in a china shop, but has no hands or finesse."
#207 Torrie Jung
#290 Michael Ward
NR Johan Harju
NR Justin Courtnall
As of right now, most signs point to college.
"I need some education," Cunti told USCHO. "I am talking to St. Cloud and Clarkson and a few others, but these two are now the most important. I just want to have some school, so I am thinking of school now."
Unless, of course, he's offered a pro deal.
Cunti said he'd know within two weeks which way he'll go, because "It depends on what [Tampa Bay] will offer me."