The Tampa Bay Lightning played it cool in the 2007 draft, building up its prospect depth and declining to make any short-term fixes to the big club.
The fundamental requirement by Lightning management for selecting players in this year’s draft? Players who could skate. A back-to-basics approach that had built the Stanley Cup winning team was to be followed.
Tampa picked up three extra picks from the Ottawa Senators late in the draft, to make a total of nine picks.
Dana Tyrell, C/RW – Prince George (WHL)
Selected 2nd Round (47th Overall) Airdrie, Alberta
DOB: April 23,1989, Height: 5’10, Weight: 185 lbs
Tampa began its selections at 47th overall. Airdrie, Alberta native Dana Tyrell is a technical skater with a good stride and above-average hockey sense. Much in line with Feaster’s marching orders, Tyrell is an excellent skater with a strong work ethic and gritty play.
Tyrell has good awareness of the ice and his linemates and an adequate combination of size, skill and hockey sense, but he needs to mature to achieve a balance between defensive and offensive play. Tyrell can be responsive defensively but has occasional lapses.
Tyrell spent the 2006-07 season with Prince George of the WHL where he finished first on the team in power-play goals and second on his team in scoring with 56 points in 72 games. He also was named WHL Prospect of the Month in February 2007 after registering 16 points in 14 games. He was named the Prince George Cougars’ Rookie of the Year for 2005-06 and Scholastic Player of the Year.
Pros: Tough to knock down; fights hard against the boards
Cons: Questionable defensive zone coverage
Luca Cunti, C/RW – Dubendorf (Swiss-3)
Selected 3rd Round (75th Overall) Zurich, Switzerland
DOB: July 4, 1989, Height: 6’0 Weight: 190 lbs.
Leading the U18 Jr. Swiss team during their 2006 World Championships run with three goals, and tying the team lead for points in six contests, Luca Cunti is well on his way to earning a reputation as a confident, deceptive skater with a quick stick, a variety of slick moves and playmaking ability.
In 28 games last year in Switzerland he scored three goals and tallied 23 points.
Ranked 12th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he has a good head for gaining the right opportunities during power plays and utilizes his good offensive vision to control the puck well. He’s a flashy player who’s strong on his skates.
He has some inadequate defensive tactics which make him appear soft, as he can get outmuscled by larger opponents. At 6’0 and 190 pounds he may appear somewhat undersized for the NHL though it is apparent that Cunti does not use his body enough, isn’t gritty and is raw in defensive positioning, shying away from confrontation. He does have the skills and the potential to develop into a solid player once he matures physically. He’ll need to upgrade his finishing skills and learn to take more shots.
Another downside to Cunti is his lack of maturity in a team-based environment. He is very fond of the spotlight and as a natural goal scorer is said to be prone to taking shifts off. This will not be supported in the Lightning’s system.
Cunti has expressed a desire to discuss his future with the Lightning and, based upon the recommendations he receives, possibly going the NCAA route where Clarkson or St. Cloud are considerations for this fall.
Pros: An impressive package of speed and technical ability
Cons: Appears at times not fully involved; when off his game is a complete non-factor
Alexander Killorn, C – Deerfield (USHSE)
Selected 3rd Round (77th Overall) Halifax, Nova Scotia
DOB: Sept.ember 14, 1989, Height: 6’0, Weight: 161 lbs.
A versatile player, Alexander Killorn has respectable speed and coordination complimented by a strong work ethic. He sees the ice well, knows his responsibilities and is rarely caught out of position.
In 26 games he scored 18 goals and 14 assists for Deerfield High School.
With a good puck sense and an eye for the ice, one of his main weaknesses is his lack of physical presence, which he attempts to compensate for with his grittiness. He needs to gain upper-body strength so that he can become more of an offensive threat, though is known to have a nasty side to his game and seems to enjoy mixing it up.
Consistency around the net is something Killorn will need to address to round out his game. The young forward has good speed, defensive ability and hands, but needs to continue to improve his conditioning.
Recently named to the Division I West All New England Team, Killorn plans to return to Deerfield for the 2007-08 season. Following this final year at Deerfield, as he committed to play for Harvard starting in the fall of 2008.
Pros: Determined and versatile player with a strong work ethic; can contribute at both ends of the ice.
Cons: Has a minimal physical presence on the ice.
Mitch Fadden, C – Lethbridge (WHL)
Selected 4th Round (107th Overall) Victoria, British Columbia
DOB: April 3, 1988, Height: 6’0, Weight: 174 lbs.
Mitch Fadden does not hesitate going through traffic. He is a good skater and is clutch in tight around the net. He’s an offensive threat, beating defensemen wide and easily creating opportunities off the rush. Fadden finishes well and shows signs of a complete style of play with his good hockey sense. These qualities have been key in his clubs’ successes.
Coming from Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, Fadden scored 36 goals and added 48 assists in 71 games in 2006-07, placing second on the team in goals, assists and points. Additionally during the regular season he was named WHL and CHL Player of the Week in February 2007 after registering 12 points, including back-to-back hat tricks, in four games.
Though not an overly physical player, Fadden is an amazing puckhandler, both at high speeds and in traffic. In order to gain a better defensive resiliency he will have to bulk up and become more physical. His mental game is said to be tough despite his young age.
Pros: Solid two-way instincts; a notable offensive advantage.
Cons: Defensive positioning
Matt Marshall, C/RW — Nobles High School (USHSE)
Selected 5th Round (150th Overall) Boston, Massachusetts
DOB: August. 30, 1988, Height: 6’1, Weight: 175 lbs.
As is the case with so many young players, Matt Marshall will need to fill in his frame to be effective in physical play. Technically sound and having the core skills to improve, he does show signs of developing an impressive physical edge to his game.
Employing good hockey sense, Marshall has decent puck handling skills and is a smart passer who finds openings. He had 14 goals and 10 assists in 27 games.
During these next few years, the Lightning organization will be looking for improvements in Marshall’s technical and two-way play has he has very good hands but is notably soft and lacks speed and agility for a top line player. In order to have a stronger presence on the ice and offer greater offensive advantages, Marshall is going to need to turn it up a notch.
The 2007-08 season will have him joining the University of Vermont.
Pros: Good hockey sense, anticipation and vision
Cons: Underdeveloped defensive skill and skating ability
Johan Harju, LW – Lulea (Sweden)
Selected 6th Round (167th Overall) Overtornea, Sweden
DOB: May 15, 1986, Height: 6’3, Weight: 205 lbs.
A very strong and powerful winger, Johan Harju has good size and good balance on his skates. He possesses a strong, crisp and sudden shot, with sound technical skills and strong puckhandling.
Bringing to his game a mature hockey sense, anticipation and vision, Harju’s mental game is equally on mark. He’s proven that not only is he a capable goal scorer from a distance but also from close range and on rebounds. This shows a player who has the scoring mentality to be in the right place at the right time.
He had a 2006-07 season of 12 goals and 10 assists in 55 games while with Lulea. There have been murmurs that Harju may make his North American appearance with the AHL, playing in Norfolk as early as this season.
Pros: A big, physical force on the ice; mental toughness
Cons: Needs to greater develop acceleration and speed
Torrie Jung, G – Kelowna (WHL)
Selected 7th Round (183rd Overall) Nanaimo, British Columbia
DOB: Jan. 21, 1989, Height: 6’1.5, Weight: 170 lbs.
Ranked 24th among North American goaltenders by Central Scouting, Jung had limited appearances during the 2006-07 season while playing with the Kelowna Rockets. At the point when he joined the club, this young goalie was considered to be one of the best goalies of his age group in Western Canada.
At the close of WHL’s regular season the young goalie ended with a record 8-15-7, an .896 save percentage and a 3.46 goals-against average. As the club’s backup netminder, his low number of appearances contribute to making it more difficult to prove his abilities. He does seem to have the potential and mental makeup to be a talented performer.
Already a big physical force who covers the net well, Jung will want to improve his stick handling skills, especially outside the crease. He has above average reflexes and a quick glove hand.
With a high mobility game, Jung appears technically sound, needing only to mature more before being in position to become a starting goalie.
Pros: Reliable with good work ethic
Cons: Needs more experience
Michael Ward, D – Lewiston (QMJHL)
Selected 7th Round (197th Overall) Shippagan, New Brunswick
DOB: August. 13, 1989, Height: 6’2, Weight: 180 lbs.
The young ‘new-style’ mobile defenseman is regarded as having good skating ability. Posting a mixed success during his first season with the QMJHL, Ward needs to develop better consistency in his game. Ward is not presently a dominant player. He has good size but not yet strong enough to be effective physically.
A former member of the University of New Brunswick’s Hockey Development Program, Ward had seven assists in 58 games for Lewiston..
Pros: Possesses a solid frame; works hard in his own end
Cons: Reported to have difficulty playing under pressure.
Justin Courtnall, LW – Burnaby (BCHL)
Selected: 7th Round (210th Overall) Victoria, British Columbia
DOB: May 21, 1989, Height: 6’3, Weight: 185 lbs.
Coming from NHL bloodlines with a skating style compared to his uncle Russ Courtnall and grit compared to his father Geoff Courtnall, with a scant one year Junior A career Justin Courtnall was selected as the second to last player in the 2007 draft.
The head scout for the Lightning has personal experience playing against Geoff Courtnall in his Junior A career. Seeing how the senior Courtnall developed during that time, the Lightning organization is hoping for similar growth with the junior Courtnall. It’s a clear argument that he was selected for pedigree — a long-shot gamble with potential for big dividends for the organization if the odds can be beat.
Courtnall had 14 points and 69 penalty minutes in 53 games for Burnaby last season.
Anticipated to remain in the BCHL this coming season, look for him to take the NCAA route in 2008. And don’t look for a signing with the Lightning any time soon – it will easily be five to six years before a return on the pick.
Pros: NHL bloodline; Good size and good hands.
Cons: A relatively unproven prospect on his own merit.
Johan Nilsson contributed to this article. Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.