Despite an incredible offensive duo in budding superstar Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, the Tampa Bay Lightning once again missed the post-season in the 2009-10 season. The pair combined for 189 points, but with a who’s who of aging veterans and a still-young Victor Hedman on the blue line, the Lightning finished fourth in the Southeast Division with a 34-36-12 record.
Of course, goaltending—or a lack thereof—may have had something to do with it. Mike Smith had a down year with a 3.09 goals-against average and a 13-18-7 record, splitting games with Antero Niittymaki, who was only slightly better.
A month before the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Steve Yzerman was named the new Lightning president and general manager, a move that dramatically shifted the fortune of the franchise in years to come. The first-year GM had eight picks to utilize, two of which were acquired through in-season trades; Evgeny Artyukhin was sent to Anaheim in August in exchange for Drew Miller and a third round pick, and the team fleeced the Los Angeles Kings when they acquired Teddy Purcell and another third round pick in exchange for Jeff Halpern.
Brett Connolly, RW, Prince George Cougars (WHL) – 1st round, 6th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 139
It’s easy to suggest that the Lightning would have been better served drafting one of the high-profile forwards taken behind Brett Connolly—Jeff Skinner, Mikael Granlund and Jaden Schwartz, for example—but, at the time, Connolly was regarded as a high-end skilled player in the tier just below Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. He had scored 60 points in 65 games as a 16 year old with Prince George in 2008-09, but missed almost the entire 2009-10 season with a hip injury.
Fortunately, the Campbell River, BC native was healthy for the 2010-11 season, and he showed why scouts were enamoured with his play prior to the 2010 NHL Draft. He scored a team-leading 46 goals and 73 points in just 59 games, giving the Lightning reason to believe he would be ready to turn pro the following season.
He may not have been able to accomplish much more in junior, but playing an entire season in the NHL at 19 may have hindered Connolly’s development. In 68 games with Tampa in 2011-12, he scored just four goals and added 11 assists.
Able to play in the AHL the following season, it was decided that he would spend the year developing in Syracuse, and the immediate results seemed promising. The right winger finished with 63 points, second in team scoring behind only Tyler Johnson.
In the 2013-14 campaign, he was still unable to find a full-time spot with the Lightning, playing just 11 games with the team. Prospects like Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn had simply passed him on the depth chart; those players scored at the AHL level and translated that success to the NHL. Still, he managed to lead the Crunch in scoring that season, posting 57 points in 66 games.
Sustained success in the AHL allowed him to grab a roster spot with the Lightning at the outset of the 2014-15 season. Though he scored 12 goals in 50 games and had seemed to finally find his role on the team, he was dealt to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline. The Lightning acquired a pair of second round picks for Connolly, who played just five games with the Bruins, picking up a pair of assists. Next season will be a very telling year in terms of the type of player he becomes.
Brock Beukeboom, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – 3rd round, 63rd overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Name recognition and good timing led to the Lightning selecting Beukeboom with its first of three third round picks. Son of former NHLer Jeff Beukeboom, Brock had his best season of junior hockey in his draft year, scoring seven goals and 19 points in 66 games.
The 6’2, 215 lb defenseman played in 44 games the following season for the Greyhounds and scored just one goal, while adding seven assists. The team had lost Jake Muzzin (LAK), its top-scoring defenseman from the season prior, and with whom Beukeboom partnered with on occasion.
He had a bit of a renaissance year in 2011-12 after being dealt to the Niagara IceDogs, recording 16 points in 47 games, with a plus-22 rating. Still, he remained unsigned by the Lightning, who had concerns over his skating ability. He split his overage season in the OHL between Niagara and Guelph, where he had another strong season—posting a plus-31 rating to go along with 22 points.
Beukeboom has played for the University of Prince Edward Island for the past two seasons. In 2014-15, he scored two goals and added a pair of assists, while finishing third on the team in penalty minutes with 54.
Radko Gudas, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL) – 3rd round, 66th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 126
The Lightning took another hard-hitting, physical defenseman just three picks after selecting Beukeboom. Gudas, however, had performed a little better offensively, scoring seven goals and adding 30 assists in his first North American season. He had also recorded a team-leading 154 penalty minutes—exhibiting the mean streak that has made him a successful NHLer.
The Czech native needed little time to adjust to pro hockey. After signing with the Lightning in the summer of 2010, he suited up for the Norfolk Admirals in the 2010-11 season and played 76 games, scoring four goals and adding 13 assists. He also managed to maintain his physical play at a higher level, recording 165 penalty minutes.
The following season with Norfolk, Gudas accumulated 195 penalty minutes. Then, in just 57 games in 2012-13, he racked up 207—all while displaying adequate offensive skills and NHL-level skating ability.
He was recalled to Tampa Bay in February of 2013, and his physical style was a breath of fresh air to a team that had lacked in that department for some time. In a 22-game stint with the team, Gudas scored twice and added three assists, ultimately earning an extended look the following season.
In the 2013-14 season, he proved his staying power, finishing third on the team in scoring among defensemen, with 22 points and a team-leading 152 penalty minutes. He played in 31 regular season games this season before being shut down after undergoing right-knee surgery.
Adam Janosik, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) – 3rd round, 72nd overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Though he was not signed by the Lightning and has never played a game in the organization, Adam Janosik has developed into a steady defender—just not in North America. After being drafted following his first of three seasons with Gatineau, the Slovakian-born defender struggled to improve upon his rookie season as his play stagnated, collecting just 32 points in both of the next two seasons.
Janosik was one of three defenders taken in the third round—one from each Canadian major junior league. With three darts to throw at the board, Yzerman and staff opted to take intriguing, physically-adept defensemen. With one working out (Gudas), the decision should be considered a success. Thus far, aside from Gudas and Michael Bournival, there have not been many noteworthy players to come out of the third round in 2010.
Janosik played for Kosice HC in Slovakia this season, scoring seven goals—the most among the team’s defensemen. He also played for his country at the World Championships, scoring once in six games. He is expected to play for Kosice HC again next season.
Geoffrey Schemitsch, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL) – 4th round, 96th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Another defenseman that had his best season of junior hockey in his draft year, the Lightning quadrupled-down on defenders when they took Schemitsch in the fourth round. As a rookie, the 6’2, 189 pound rearguard led all Owen Sound Attack defensemen in scoring with 40 points in 62 games. He was also a plus-one on a team that missed the playoffs.
In 2010-11, on a much improved team, Schemitsch accumulated just 20 points in 45 games. In the post-season, however, he played an integral part in the team’s championship run—recording 11 points in 20 games.
After 27 games the following season, he was dealt to the Oshawa Generals and went unsigned by the Lightning. He returned for his overage season before turning to the CIS.
Schemitsch has spent the past two seasons with Acadia University in Nova Scotia. In 48 regular season games he has recorded 15 points. His brother Thomas now plays for Owen Sound, and is likely to be selected in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Watch this 2010 NHL Draft Look Back video featuring Tampa Bay Lightning top pick Brett Connolly, plus Brock Beukeboom and Geoffrey Schemitsch.
Jimmy Mullin, C, Shattuck St. Mary’s (Minnesota) – 4th round, 118th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
After attending distinguished prep school Shattuck St. Mary’s in his draft year, Mullin played one season in the USHL before committing to the University of Miami (Ohio) for the 2011-12 season. Then a diminutive pivot with good speed and high-level offensive skills, Mullin led the Fargo Force in scoring with 60 points in 52 games.
As a freshman the following season in the NCAA, Mullin finished third in team scoring with 26 points in 37 games, behind only Reilly Smith (BOS) and Austin Czarnik, who recently signed with the Bruins as a free agent.
With Smith gone in 2012-13, Mullin had a down year offensively, scoring just six goals in 38 games. He finished eighth in team scoring; 2013-14 was not much better, either, as he scored just once in 19 games before missing the second half of the season due to injury. He then missed the entire 2014-15 campaign due to that same injury.
Fortunately, though it would have been his senior season, Mullin redshirted with the team last year, and will return for 2015-16 to play out his final year of NCAA eligibility. He will be 24 by the end of next season, so unless he can regain the form he had in his freshman season, it is unlikely he will get signed. It will be especially difficult seeing as he hasn’t played in more than a year.
Brendan O’Donnell, C, Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL) – 6th round, 156th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
The Lightning took another NCAA-bound forward in the sixth round, reaching into the Manitoba midget league to select O’Donnell, who was set for a season with Penticton of the BCHL before eventually beginning his collegiate career in 2011-12.
The Winnipeg native struggled to adjust in his first two years of collegiate hockey, playing through injuries which limited him to just 46 games and 16 points. As a junior in 2013-14, however, O’Donnell was given a more offensive role with the team as forwards Danny Kristo (NYR) and Corban Knight (FLA) turned pro. He finished 10th in team scoring.
As a senior this season, O’Donnell had his most productive year, finishing ninth on the team in scoring with 21 points and playing a solid two-way brand of hockey. He has yet to sign a contract with the Lightning.
Teigan Zahn, D, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – 7th round, 186th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
The only time a seventh round pick can ever be even considered a slight mistake is if the player that immediately follows said player ends up becoming a bonafide star. In the case of Teigan Zahn, goaltender Frederik Anderson (ANA) was selected by Carolina just one pick later.
Zahn was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Draft, but he failed to sign with them. Despite the fact he had registered the worst statistical season of his junior career in 2009-10, going scoreless and picking up just three assists in 44 games, the Lightning took a chance on him in the 2010 draft.
He returned to Saskatoon for his overage season, and, though he had a career year with 23 points and a plus-39 rating, he went unsigned. He played for the University of Calgary in 2011-12, before turning pro in the ECHL.
Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Zahn has played 152 games in the ECHL and eight games in the AHL. This season, he recorded 20 points in 70 games with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles and recorded a team-leading 298 penalty minutes.
Prospect of the Month: Adam Erne
By default, Adam Erne is the Lightning’s Prospect of the Month—but just because he is the lone prospect still playing does not mean he has not earned the recognition. Since the beginning of the QMJHL playoffs, Erne has taken his game to another level, almost willing the Quebec Remparts to a league championship.
The Remparts were bested in Game 7 to the Rimouski Oceanic in a double OT thriller, but Erne’s 21 goals in 22 playoff games were enough to earn him the Guy Lafleur Trophy as playoff MVP. Although the Remparts’ spot in the Memorial Cup had already been punched due to the Remparts hosting it, Erne helped the team dispel doubt about whether or not it belonged in the tournament.