Prospect Feature: Paul Lynch

By Megan Sexton

As Paul Lynch sat in the stands at the National Car Rental Center
during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and listened to 137 names called
without hearing his own, he couldn’t help but feel a little despair.
Scouts had predicted and Lynch himself expected to hear his name by
the third round, at the very latest. The young Massachusetts native
was forced to wait until the fifth round before hearing the words
every young hockey player dreams of: “With our pick we select…”

“I expected and was told I would go third, possibly higher, and when
it didn’t happen, it was hard,” Lynch explained. “I knew during the
season when I tore my knee, it would have a big effect on where I was
going to go.”

Now Lynch is a man on a mission. The mission: to prove his value. He
has spent the summer working out at Mike Boyle’s gym, where Tampa Bay
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier has been diligently training
through out the off-season. He has also spent a good deal of time at
Lightning Special Skills Coach Paul Vincent’s camp. While Lynch’s
skating surely doesn’t need improvement, he is looking to fine-tune
other areas of his game.

Most young players growing up in Boston dream of being the hometown
hero at local schools, but not Lynch. He chose the University of
Maine over both Boston College and Merrimack.

“I didn’t want to get distracted by anything near the city,” Lynch
explained. The serious hockey atmosphere set by head coach Shawn
Walsh lured Lynch to Maine. “He is a great guy who takes hockey very
seriously.”

While Lynch is expecting to play at least 30 minutes a game, there
will be a lot of adjusting to do for the freshman who led the EJHL’s
Valley Junior Warriors with 43 PIM in 21 games last year. Lynch will
have to modify his notoriously rough style to accommodate the almost
fight-free NCAA.

Lynch views this as a positive transition. “In juniors, fighting was
a necessity. I found myself running around too much and being a
little too aggressive,” he explained. “I am looking to take that
negative energy and focus it more positively. With the penalty
minutes that I had, I ended up hurting the team more than helping
them.”

With less focus being placed on physical play, Lynch will finally
have a chance to explore his offensive ability. While with the
Warriors, he was placed in a stay-at-home role and barly given the
chance to touch on his scoring ability. Many who watched him play
felt he had much more to offer offensively, including head coach Andy
Heinze, brother of NHLer Steve Heinze.

As Andy Heinze told the Hockey Journal, “I get the feeling when you
look at Paul, he’s just scratching the surface in terms of what he
can bring scoring-wise.” Now Lynch will have the chance to showcase
himself with Maine.

While Tampa Bay is very deep defensively, with a couple of solid
seasons at the college level, Lynch could easily see himself rise
high in the ranks of Lightning blueliners.

Scouting Report

Lynch is an intense competitor who is good in front of the net and in
the corners. He plays a strong physical style, landing the punishing
hits at every opportunity. He is strong skater with good agility, a
long, smooth stride and impressive speed for his size. He has good
passing and puckhandling skills and gets the puck out of the zone
quickly and safely. He has a hard, accurate shot and is not afraid to
jump into the offense. He needs to be more disciplined in the
defensive zone.