defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning received the last pick in the
first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, after their ball was coincidently selected
last at the draft lottery.
With their nine choices in the draft, the Lightning selected six forwards, two
defensemen and one goaltender. Three of their selections were from Slovakia,
three from Canada, two from the Czech Republic, and one from the United States.
Vladimir Mihalik, D
Round 1, 30th overall
their first selection in the 2005 draft the Lightning chose Vladimir Mihalik,
30th overall. The native of Slovakia split his
time last season between the junior and 1st division teams. The defenseman
stands at 6’7 and 220 lbs., but does not tend to play an aggressive style
of hockey. He did start to display a mean streak while playing with the division
1 team in the latter part of the season and learned to play the body. His
improvement showed during the U-18 World Junior Championships
where he delivered hits and was more effective against opponents in his own end.
Mihalik’s skating is a concern, but he has improved his first-step quickness and will need
to continue to work on his front-to-back speed. He has a powerful slap shot and
can be utilized on the power play. The Red Deer Rebels of the WHL
selected Mihalik in the CHL Import Draft.
|2004-05||Presov Jr (Slovak Jr)||23||6||10||16||44|
Radek Smolenak, LW
Round 3, 73rd overall
After trading their second round pick
to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Vaclav Prospal, the Lightning had their second
pick of the draft in the third round, where they selected Radek Smolenak, 73rd
overall. A native of the Czech Republic, Smolenak came over to North America in
his draft year to play for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. He led all OHL rookies with
31 goals and was fourth for points with 60. He showed consistency throughout the
year, despite playing for a weak team. He also proved his worth at the CHL Top
Prospects Game where he had a goal and an assist despite only being in the game
as an injury replacement.
Noted as a natural goal-scorer with
soft hands, he was a consistent offensive threat in the OHL. He will continue to
improve on his game next year in the OHL.
Chris Lawrence, C
Round 3, 89th overall
Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
With their second choice in the third
round, the Lightning selected Chris Lawrence from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
of the OHL. Lawrence was a member of Team Ontario at the 2004 U-17 Championships
and helped lead the team to a gold medal by posting seven points in six games.
He was also invited to play at the 2005 CHL Top Prospects Game.
Lawrence has a good skill set, with a
lot of offensive tools to work with, but hasn’t quite put everything together
just yet. He could benefit from gaining strength and needs to play with more
consistency. He has a few years left in the OHL and if he uses those to put his
game together and reach his potential, he could be a real force in his last
season in the league.
|2004-05||Sault Ste. Marie OHL||68||11||40||51||57|
Marek Bartanus, RW
Round 4, 92nd overall
Kosice HC (Slovak)
In the fourth round the Lightning
selected Marek Bartanus, a native of Slovakia, 92nd overall. Bartanus had a
successful season with Kosice’s junior team in 2003-04 and started off the
2004-05 season with the senior team. Having to fight for ice time on the veteran
squad he struggled, posting only two goals and one assist. After rejoining the
junior team he put up strong numbers, 14 goals and 14 assists in 34 games with a
+35 rating, although frustrated his coaches with a lazy attitude and lack of
consistent effort. Despite being given named the captain of Slovakia’s team at
the World Junior Championships, he played poorly with only a goal and an assist
in six games.
Bartanus is a good stickhandler with
strong wrist and slap shots, but his lack of effort and intensity in the
defensive zone has been noticed by coaches and scouts. He will move on to North
America next year to play with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL and it may spark
him to have a stronger work ethic. It remains to be seen if he will be able to
mature as a player and live up to his potential.
|Kosice Jr (Slovak Jr)||34||14||14||28||99|
Blair Jones, C
Round 4, 102nd overall
Moose Jaw (WHL)
With their second choice in the
fourth round, Tampa selected Blair Jones from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.
Jones spent the first part of the 2004-05 season with the Red Deer Rebels where
he was a regular offensive contributor. When Dion Phaneuf was sidelined with an
injury, Jones anchored the team’s power play, due in part to his powerful shot.
He also gained experience playing on the top forward unit alongside Colin Fraser
and Roman Wick. Jones recorded 25 points with Red Deer and another 25 with Moose
Jaw for a 50-point season. He was also an instrumental part of Moose Jaw’s
success down the stretch and during their postseason effort. He led the team in
scoring during the playoffs with seven points in five games. He had a +10 rating
to end the season, well ahead of notable names like Dustin Boyd (-28) and Troy
Brouwer (-26). Jones possesses good offensive skills and is smart on the ice. He
is a well-rounded player who is reliable in both ends of the rink. He sees the
ice well and has the potential to be a good two-way player.
|2004-05||Moose Jaw WHL||29||7||18||25||30|
|Red Deer WHL||39||7||18||25||48|
Stanislav Lascek, RW
Round 5, 133rd overall
In the fifth round, the Lightning
selected Stanislav Lascek, 133rd overall. This native of Slovakia has two seasons
with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL under his belt. He was the team’s
third leading scorer in 2004-05 with 90 points and led the team with 72 assists.
His assists speak to his ability to set up his teammates for scoring
chances and he has been known for sneaking into the play behind defenders. Lascek
is strong in traffic and is known for his ability to control the puck. He is
strong offensively and can read plays well. He has also been noted to have
strong character, work ethic, determination and leadership qualities. With
further development he has the potential to become a top-six forward.
Marek Kvapil, RW
Round 6, 163rd overall
The Lightning selected Marek
Kvapil in the sixth round. Born in Ilava, Slovakia, he grew up in the Czech
Republic and is a Czech citizen.
Kvapil was a player that many
scouts had on their list, due to the amount of skills he
possesses. The 5’11, 172-pounder led the Saginaw Spirit in scoring in
his first season in the OHL, with 62 points in 53 games. He was also a member of
the Czech team in the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships.
He had five points in seven games, which was third best on the team. Kvapil is
strong in the corners and can control the pace of the play. He can
score goals, is good with the puck and is dangerous on the power play. Despite
his small frame he has endurance and won’t give up if he takes a beating. He may spend more time developing in the AHL
due to his
lack of size.
Kevin Beech, G
Round 6, 165th overall
With their second pick in the sixth
round, the Lightning selected goaltender Kevin Beech from the Sudbury Wolves of
the OHL. Not a strong year for goaltending prospects, Beech was one of the few
that had any buzz surrounding him. At 6’4 and 168 lbs., he is a lanky netminder. He served as backup to San Jose prospect Patrick Ehelechner and
improved his numbers significantly from his rookie season, with his goals
against average going from 3.55 to 2.65. He has good potential, but has been
inconsistent, something that could be attributed to his size and lack of
endurance. He will need to continue to develop his skills and play more
consistently to have a shot at the next level.
John Wessbecker, D
Round 7, 225th overall
Blake (U.S. High School)
With their final selection in the
2005 draft, the Lightning selected Blake High School player, John Wessbecker
225th overall in the seventh round. In 2004-05 at Blake he was All Conference,
and was the recipient of the Dartmouth Trophy for being the team’s most valuable
player, an award voted on by the coaches and players. He shared the honor of
best defensive player and was awarded the Hobey Baker High School Character
award for being a student that exemplified the spirit, sportsmanship and
character through their attitude, work ethic, unselfishness, and “coachability”. The defenseman will attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst this fall, the school Tampa prospect John Toffey recently departed.
|2004-05||The Blake School (USHSW)||26||6||16||22|
Jes Golbez Ursulak, Ivana Paulova and Jason
Ahrens contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.