With the recent sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to the ownership group led by Oren Koules and Len Barrie, the Bolts have a new connection to Victoria, British Columbia just across from the Straight of Georgia from Vancouver. Barrie is the CEO, President and majority shareholder of Bear Mountain Resort, a massively successful development property just outside the city. Just weeks after the sale of the team, Barrie brought the Lightning’s young talent to Victoria for the 2008 Prospects Camp.
An added sub-plot to the franchise bringing its future talent to Vancouver Island was the fact that the recent No. 1 pick in the draft, Steven Stamkos, would not only turn down Team Canada’s World Junior summer camp to be here, but also sign his first NHL contract during the camp. Needless to say the majority of the local media attention has been on Stamkos and Barrie.
But the Lightning have a number of promising prospects in camp, including former first-round picks Riku Helenius, Andy Rogers and (recently acquired) Ty Wishart. Also flying under the radar is little-heralded Matt Marshall, the 150th overall selection in the 2007 Draft.
Listed by the Lightning as 6’1, 185 lbs, the 19 year-old spent the past season playing high school hockey in Massachusetts with Noble & Greenough. An extremely fast skater, Marshall’s speed will be his primary asset at every level of hockey he plays. He’s committed to the University of Vermont next season where he hopes to immediately step into a contributing role.
Marshall played mostly alongside Stamkos and Jamie Wright during the team’s first scrimmage and acquitted himself well by using his skating ability to fill the lane and drive to the net. He spoke with HF after the scrimmage about his experiences at his first professional camp, the Entry Draft and his future.
HF: How do you like Victoria so far?
MM: It’s really nice. The resort we’re staying at is one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever been at. Our room is ridiculous really. So, they treat us really well.
HF: Needless to say, it’s a little different than traveling with your high school team?
MM: Obviously. You have people bringing you equipment to you. And food and everything, it’s all set for you. All you have to do is show up.
HF: Why did you decide the NCAA route rather than play major junior?
MM: I’m from Boston, I’d grown up watching college hockey so pretty much everyone I know…so it made sense.
HF: And what are you studying?
MM: That’s something actually I’m still thinking about. Right now I’m in the business school and I don’t really know yet.
HF: You’re a couple of days into your first ever professional camp. How have you found it?
MM: It’s been awesome actually. They haven’t beat us up too bad. I mean, we’re busy, but it’s been a lot of fun meeting everyone and stuff like that.
HF: Is this the first time you’ve met all of these players?
MM: Yeah, I really didn’t know anyone.
HF: So did you have to pay your on way here because of the college eligibility rules?
MM: Yeah. I had to pay for the flight and everything. The meals are free, but other than that, I have to pay for everything else. It’s definitely, definitely worth it to get to know everyone.
HF: What are you doing other than this camp for off-season training?
MM: I’m working out with my trainer with a group of about six other kids and skating at that rink about twice a week.
HF: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
MM: Vermont hasn’t graduated many kids but I expect to step right in and contribute right away.
HF: Have you had any discussions with them what their expectations are for you this season?
MM: Not so many. I think they have pretty high expectations.
HF: Going back to last year, did you expect to be chosen in the Entry Draft?
MM: At the beginning of the year, no, no idea. Halfway through the year I kind of had an idea that I might be picked with all the rankings and things like that.
HF: Did you have any idea that Tampa Bay in particular was interested in you?
MM: Not until maybe the week before the Draft when I interviewed with their psychologist the second time or something like that. I still didn’t know though.
HF: What was your experience at the Combine, in particular dealing with the interviews?
MM: To tell you the truth I didn’t think the interview went well with Tampa. I thought it went pretty bad. Their psychologist, he was really nice, and he thought I did a good job.
HF: For your average Lightning fan who has never seen you play, how would you describe your style?
MM: I think my game is pretty much my skating. I think that’s my best asset, my speed. Any way I can use that to contribute.
HF: What do you think you need to work on most to make the next step to college hockey successful?
MM: I definitely have to fill out. I’m not very heavy right now so obviously get stronger. That’s probably the biggest thing. Bigger and stronger.