A look at Lightning junior prospects in action on North American ice.
G Jonathan Boutin
After a strong performance at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament and Lightning camp scrimmages, the 2003 3rd rounder left Tampa looking to regain his starting position with the Mooseheads upon returning to the QMJHL. While that happened initially, Boutin lost his first two games playing sub-par hockey and was benched his next turn, a match against defending league champion Gatineau. Boutin returned to the nets in Halifax’s next match, but he continued to struggle, suffering another loss. Boutin’s struggles are hard to figure out as he looked very strong against NHL talent in scrimmages and drills and received a good amount of attention from Lightning goalie coach Jeff Reese. Boutin lost his starting job last season with the Mooseheads, and must make a 180 if he is to take back his position as the club’s top netminder in 2003-2004.
|LW Zbynek Hrdel||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
Hrdel is again off to a strong start this season, producing at nearly a point-per-game pace thanks to seeing some time with prized teammates Sidney Crosby and Marc-Antoine Pouliot. The Czech forward notched two assists for the Lightning in the Traverse City tournament before returning to Rimouski to start the year. The Lightning is hoping the 2003 ninth rounder turns out half as good as previous Oceanic/Lightning prospects Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.
|D Doug O’Brien||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
A sixth round pick in the 2003 draft, O’Brien has picked up where he left off last season when he enjoyed a breakout year, scoring a career best 44 points for Memorial Cup runner-up Hull. Now in Gatineau, O’Brien is consistently among Olympique leaders in shots and minutes each game and is currently tied for second among all QMJHL defensemen in scoring. O’Brien participated in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament for Tampa Bay, going scoreless in four games, but earning an invitation to the Lightning’s main camp. O’Brien performed well in scrimmages, but did not see action in an exhibition game. He attended Canada’s WJC developmental camp in the summer before heading to Traverse City.
Ontario Hockey League
|G Gerald Coleman||W-L-T||GAA||Sv%||SO|
Coleman, like Boutin, also had a strong performance at both the Traverse City tournament and Lightning scrimmages. However, Coleman has taken his NHL camp experience and additional instruction and is making a name for himself in Southwestern Ontario. Coleman, the Knights’ starting goaltender, won his first three starts, leading the Knights to a 3-0 record. The Knights went 4-0 before Coleman and the club suffered their first loss last weekend. The first draft pick to come out of the NHL Diversity Task Force Program, Coleman is a big goaltender that seemed to take Jeff Reese’s instruction and put it immediately to work. During scrimmages Coleman looked like a John Grahame clone (post-Boston days) in his simplified approach to the game and using his size to his advantage. Coleman was very effective putting the paddle down during goal-mouth scrambles, while remaining upright and letting the puck find him. Though he struggled with rebound control and seemed to be weak through the five hole, the Illinois native was the last goaltender to be scored upon in scrimmages. If the Knights are to make a push for an OHL title, Coleman must continue to play solid in net.
|W Adam Henrich||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
Henrich made a name for himself at Lightning camp this year by performing well in scrimmages and in an exhibition game against the Thrashers. He only managed one shot in the exhibition game, but he played a strong two-way game though he admitted to being extremely nervous. During scrimmages he showed a lot of creativity and performed well away from the puck while on a line with former Brandon Wheat King Ryan Craig and Finnish speedster Eero Somervuori. Henrich suffered a strained oblique muscle during the Traverse City tournament limiting him to only one game and two PIMs.
Since returning to Brampton, Henrich is leading the Battalion in scoring. He was recently awarded an “A” on his jersey, a reflection of his leadership abilities. Henrich is sure to get a contract this spring, and may be closer than some think to seeing NHL ice.
|D Paul Ranger||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
The Generals top backliner enjoyed a fine Lightning camp this year where he showed off solid puckmoving skills and mobility, earning him an exhibition game appearance against the Thrashers. In addition to earning two PIM in the exhibition game, Ranger added four minutes in penalties during the four-game Traverse City tourney.
Back with the Generals, Ranger is again being counted on in all game situations. In addition to being leaned on for his offense, he is frequently matched against the opposition’s best forward line. With the General’s top center, Nathan Horton, signing with the Panthers, the 6’2″, 210-pound Ranger will be counted on for more offensive contributions as he looks to sign his name on an NHL contract this spring.
Western Hockey League
|D Mike Egener||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
When Egener left Lightning camp without appearing in an exhibition game, he vowed to return to Calgary and continue to work on rounding out his game. Wanting to improve his offensive numbers while proving he’s more than just a fighter, the Hitmen alternate captain returned to Calgary only see more of the same. Through seven games Egener has not hit the scoresheet, and if misconduct minutes were added to WHL PIM totals he’d be nearing triple digits. Considering Calgary just finished a streak of five straight games of only scoring one goal per contest, offense from Egener can’t come soon enough. Egener is a very mobile skater for a big man, has a booming shot, and is a solid passer, so it’s puzzling how the Lightning’s top pick in the 2003 draft (34th overall) hasn’t hit the scoresheet, or stayed out of the penalty box, more this season. The Lightning had Egener rated as the 17th overall prospect in the 2003 draft, so the pressure is on for Mike to fill rising expectations after a somewhat disappointing NHL camp. Egener and fellow prospect Andreas Holmqvist struggled at times in Lightning scrimmages as a pair and combined for 18 minutes in penalties at the Traverse City tournament—16 of which were Egener’s. Egener attended Canada’s WJC Developmental Camp this summer and is considered a strong possibility to make the squad.
|W Darren Reid||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Medicine Hat||63||14||30||44||163||-8|
|2003-2004 Medicine Hat||8||5||6||11||30||-1|
No North American junior Lightning prospect is making more of an impact on his club this season than Reid, whose solid play is a carryover from a fine Traverse City Tournament and Lightning camp. Reid wasn’t even supposed to be at Lightning camp. The 2002 ninth rounder impressed the Lightning staff so much at the tournament that he received an invitation to the NHL camp. Reid found his way into a home exhibition game against the Thrashers, where he hit everything that moved and played a gritty two-way game.
Back in Medicine Hat, Reid is currently leading the Tigers in scoring and is seventh overall in the league in points. The overager’s three power play goals are good for second in the WHL. Medicine Hat will continue to lean on Reid for offense now that Joffrey Lupul has earned a spot on Anaheim’s roster and was quite impressive in his NHL debut.
|C Nick Tarnasky||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
Tarnasky is a gritty center who’s not afraid to get his nose a little dirty if it helps out the club. He’s got more skill than his numbers indicate, though he remains a wait-and-see project for the Bolts. Tarnasky had one assist in the Traverse City tournament.
|D Jay Rosehill||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
After rumors Rosehill would join fellow Lightning prospect Matt Smaby at the University of North Dakota this fall proved to be untrue, Rosehill returned to Olds of the Alberta Junior League. The 6’3″, 200-pound defensman was a seventh round pick of the Bolts in this summer’s draft. Rosehill is yet another Jay Feaster pick fitting the defenseman mold of being big, mean, and mobile.
|D PJ Atherton||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 U of Minnesota||19||2||2||4||20||NA|
|2003-2004 U of Minnesota||–||–||–||–||–||–|
Atherton is a raw two-way defenseman who plays with a swagger. With defensemen Paul Martin and Matt DeMarchi leaving the NCAA champs for the Stanley Cup champs, Atherton could see some more ice time for the U. Minn Gophers as they look for their third straight championship. Ice time won’t be handed to him, however. Though only six defensemen return, two prized freshmen defenders from the USHL have been added and will immediately compete for ice time. Atherton skates well, is a good passer, and has a mean streak, but he tends to get caught looking around in his own zone. He scored 29 points in 54 games for Cedar Rapids of the USHL, so the sophomore has some offense to offer, also. Minnesota opens up their season Friday against Maine in the Maverick Stampede tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. The game is a rematch of the 2001-2002 NCAA championship game.
|D Arthur Femenella||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Sioux City (USHL)||48||1||6||7||197||+12|
|2003-2004 U of Vermont||1||0||0||0||2||NA|
The 6’7″, 244-pound Femenella made his long-awaited NCAA debut this past weekend in Vermont’s 3-2 loss to Boston College. Femenella was described as “solid” in his debut, holding his own against what some believe is the best team in the country. The freshman held a regular shift in the match. The game marks the end of a long journey for the former Peterborough Petes draft pick who shunned the OHL for the USHL and a chance for a college scholarship. He spent two years captaining Sioux City, winning one USHL championship, before finally getting a chance with Martin St. Louis’ alma mater. Femenella is currently undecided on a major and is enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences.
|D Brady Greco||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Chicago (USHL)||57||9||20||29||225||NA|
|2003-2004 Colorado College||–||–||–||–||–||–|
A 2003 eighth rounder, Greco is entering Colorado College as a sophomore after attending Michigan Tech as a freshman. The big defenseman is coming off a season in the USHL where he beat fellow Lightning prospect Arthur Femenella for the league lead in penalty minutes playing for the Chicago Steel. Greco’s got some offense to add to his physical game, but his numbers will be depend on how much ice time he earns with the Tigers. The Tigers are a young team and return only three defensemen, led by Bruins first round pick Mark Stuart and Kings pick Richard Petiot. Greco is among five new faces competing for three spots on defense. Greco, a Wisconsin native, is the only drafted newcomer among the five. CC opens their season this weekend with an exhibition game against the University of British Columbia.
|D/F Paul Lynch||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2001-2002 U of Maine||22||2||4||6||24||NA|
|2002-2003 U of Maine||10||0||3||3||6||+5|
After being moved to forward in his sophomore year at Maine to get him more playing time, the 2001 fifth rounder and former high school star has transferred to the University of Massachusetts. Lynch will resume his career next fall with two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out this season.
|W Dennis Packard||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Harvard||28||8||6||14||28||NA||2003-2004 Harvard||–||–||–||–||–||–|
The towering Packard enters his senior season on a stocked Crimson squad. Packard plays a strong defensive, physical game and has enough raw offensive ability to be dangerous in the opponent’s zone. Viewed as a top 10 prospect by the Lightning, Packard is staring at an NHL contract this spring if he continues to improve his game. A breakout offensive season would rocket him up the Lightning organizational depth chart. He already possesses NHL size and skating abilities. The Crimson opens their year October 24th with an exhibition game against the University of Guelph.
|G Joseph Pearce||W-L-T||GAA||Sv%||SO|
|2002-2003 Chicago (USHL)||13-11-(3 OTL)||3.16||.885||1|
|2003-2004 Boston College||0-0-0||–||–||–|
Finally a Boston College Eagle, Pearce, a freshman, must wait for his chance in net. He didn’t see any action in the highly-touted Eagles’ first game, but may see some spot duty throughout the season. Pearce paid his own way to Brandon, Florida, to participate in pre-camp workouts and receive instruction from Lightning goalie coach Jeff Reese. Pearce was very pleased with the teaching he received and will take a simplified approach back to BC where he concentrates on positioning, limited movement, and utilizing his 6’5” frame more to his advantage.
|D Matt Smaby||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS)||57||3||20||23||114||NA|
|2003-2004 U of North Dakota||1||0||0||0||4||+1|
The Lightning’s second pick (41st overall) in the 2003 draft made his collegiate debut last weekend for the Fighting Sioux. Smaby picked up a double minor for roughing in the Sioux’s 3-2 win over the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Smaby played much of last season with a broken wrist, which hurt his numbers, but he isn’t in the Rob Blake mold, anyway. A true stay-at-homer, Smaby skates very well for a big man (6’5″, 200 pounds) but his calling card is his physical game. He attended the U.S. WJC development camp in hopes of playing for the Americans in the World Junior Championships in December. After the draft, the Lightning stated that Smaby was ranked 18th overall by the club. Though the Bolts feel lucky to get him at 41, others feel it was a reach to grab Smaby so early. Entering the draft, Smaby was ranked 51th (NA) by Central Scouting. Time will tell if the Bolts made the right decision, but a career at UND is a great launching pad for a high-end prospect like Smaby. With the loss of David Hale to the Devils, Smaby may be see more ice time than he originally expected at UND.
|W John Toffey||GP||G||A||P||PIM||+/-|
|2002-2003 Walpole (EJHL)||19||7||8||15||10||NA|
After spending last year in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, the former Ohio State forward is again eligible for NCAA hockey and is resuming his career with the University of Massachusetts. Toffey, a ninth round pick of the Bolts in 2002, is a former high school quarterback and draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in baseball.
Note: All statistics as of 10-9-2003.