2014 NHL Draft: Tampa Bay Lightning draft preview

By Chris Roberts

Anthony DeAngelo - Tampa Bay Lightning

Photo: Anthony DeAngelo was one of four defensemen the Tampa Bay Lightning selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Lightning picked DeAngelo 19th overall. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

 

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman proved, once again, that the franchise is not afraid of taking risks in the early rounds of the NHL Draft.

The team selected arguably the most talented offensive defenseman in the draft - Anthony DeAngelo – despite concerns about his character. They did similar last year when they selected Adam Erne early in the second round, and their propensity for selecting Russians has been well documented since Yzerman became the team’s GM.

Entering the draft with a pair of first round picks also allowed the Lightning to pick up a pair of second round picks from the New York Islanders, who moved up to the 28th spot to select Josh Ho-Sang. They were without a second round pick of their own after trading theirs to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Jason Garrison.

Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
1st round, 19th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 167 lbs

A confident puck-moving defenseman who scored 71 points in 51 games last season for Sarnia of the OHL, Anthony DeAngelo has top-10 talent, and, arguably, could have been drafted as high if not for an incident earlier in the 2013-14 season involving a teammate.

Obviously, the Lightning believe that DeAngelo has matured and moved past his perceived character flaws, or feel that the talent he possesses was too great to pass up at the 19th spot; and judging by his numbers, they are not wrong.

He averaged over an assist per game, and was the team’s top weapon on the power play, quarterbacking the point with elite-level puck movement and skating. He is exactly the type of defenseman the Lightning could use, projecting in their future top four and on the first power play unit.

“I think I’m going to fit in well, whenever I get the chance to play,” DeAngelo said after being drafted. “(Tampa) is a young team, they’re a fast team, they like to get out with speed and I’ll definitely fit in with that style.”

Though he made his desire to be picked by the hometown Flyers known, he compares and styles his game after former Lightning blueliner Dan Boyle.

“I’m an offensive defenseman…There’s a lot of things in my game I want to work on, but that’s my main expertise right now.”

DeAngelo will return to Sarnia for at least one more season. If he is not ready for the 2015-16 season, the Lightning can afford to be patient and develop him in the NHL thanks to recent pickups Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison.

After meeting with Lightning personnel following his selection, DeAngelo met with the media, with some of his comments being captured in this HF video.

Dominik Masin, D, Slavia (Czech Jrs)
2nd round, 35th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 190 lbs

Captain of the Czech Republic U18 junior squad, Dominik Masin took a huge step forward this season. In representing his country at the U18 level, he recorded three assists in seven games; however, it was the leap he took in the Czech U20 league that garnered attention from scouts, and ultimately, the Lightning.

In 2012-13, with Slavia Praha in the U20 league as a 17-year-old, Masin had just three points in 25 games, but earned his keep with his strong defensive play and a solid 6’0 frame (he’s now 6’2). In 2013-14, with the same team, he recorded 21 points in 39 games.

He was the 10th ranked European skater heading into the draft, and, after being picked by the Lightning, was selected by the Peterborough Petes in the CHL Import Draft. Masin wants to come to North America this season, and he will fit well on a Petes squad that is on the rise in the OHL’s Eastern Conference.

Johnathan MacLeod, D, USNTDP
2nd round, 57th overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 180 lbs

After selecting the smaller, but more agile and offensively-oriented DeAngelo in the first round, the Lightning continued to go big in the second round, picking another large, physically-inclined blueliner in MacLeod.

Last year, with the U.S National Team Development Program, he scored five goals and added six assists in 51 games. He does not possess the offensive skills that would make him a weapon on the power play, but his in-your-face, physical style of play makes him a valued presence on the penalty kill, particularly in front of the net.

The 18-year-old has committed to Boston University next season, which is a benefit for the Lightning, as they will get to be patient with the defensive defenseman.

Brayden Point, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
3rd round, 79th overall
Height: 5-10 Weight: 160 lbs

With their first forward taken in the draft, Tampa Bay landed a supremely talented pivot who plays bigger than his 5’9, 160 pound frame suggests.

He played for the Canadian U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament last August and recently helped the team to a bronze medal at the IIHF U18 World Championships, recording a pair of assists in four games. With Moose Jaw of the WHL this season, Point was far-and-away the team’s leading scorer with 91 points in 72 games – 36 more points than the team’s second leading scorer, 19-year-old Jack Rodewald.

“I think my offense is one of the better parts of my game,” Point said at the draft. “Defensively I’ve got to work on some things, so I’ll focus on that (this season).”

His favorite player growing up was Markus Naslund, and, like Naslund, Point’s ability to score goals rivals his ever-improving playmaking ability.

Ben Thomas, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
4th round, 119th overall
Height: 6-2, Weight: 193 lbs

Calgary native Ben Thomas has spent the entirety of his hockey career in his hometown; he played his minor hockey in there, played Junior-A for the Calgary Canucks and was selected by the Hitmen in the third round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.

In Thomas, the Lightning get another big, sturdy defender, who, like Point, recently played for the Canadian U18 bronze medal team. Steady would be the word used to describe Thomas, but his offensive game is ever-developing. As a second-year bantam player, he only had 11 points in 31 games; the following year, in Midget AAA, he posted 17 points in 34 games. As a rookie this season for the Hitmen, Thomas contributed seven goals and 24 assists, which was good enough for fourth in scoring on a crowded Hitmen blue line, which featured overager Alex Roach (LAK), Kenton Helgesen (ANA) and Travis Sanheim (PHI). Next year will be a pivotal year development wise for Thomas.

Cristiano DiGiacinto, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
6th round, 170th overall
Height: 5-10 Weight: 186 lbs

Another CHL rookie, DiGiacinto broke into the Spitfires lineup after beginning the 2013-14 season with the Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL. His combination of grit and scoring ability, evident by his 11 points and 37 penalty minutes in just nine games earned his recall to Windsor, and he did not look back.

In 50 games with the Spitfires, DiGiacinto cemented his role as the team’s sparkplug and agitator, while providing secondary scoring. His 17 goals ranked fifth on the team, while his 101 penalty minutes were just three short of the team lead. He can drop the gloves when asked; last year, he fought nine times, one short of the 10 fight threshold imposed by the league.

Cameron Darcy, RW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
7th round, 185th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 lbs

Boston native and 20-year-old Cameron Darcy could have been signed by any of the 30 NHL teams after July 1st, but the Lightning opted to take a flyer on the rugged forward in the seventh round, ensuring they will have him in AHL camp this September.

After leaving Northeastern University early into the 2012-13 campaign, Darcy played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, before signing with Cape Breton prior to the 2013-14 season in hopes of catching the eyes of NHL scouts. In his last season of junior eligibility (prior to being an overager), Darcy was a key cog up front for the Screaming Eagles, leading the team in scoring with 82 points in 65 games. He has not had much experience playing against high quality competition, but last year’s sample was certainly enough for Yzerman and the Lightning to take a small gamble with a seventh round pick.

The Lightning will likely sign Darcy over the summer, and he will be able to immediately join the team’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.