Ok, so he played regularly in the NHL last season and is in no way a prospect, but he is only a little over one year removed from being the number one overall draft pick. Although he didn’t put up big numbers, mostly because he was handled very carefully by the team and he didnt exactly have a lot around him, he did show signs of why he is one of, if not the, most talented players drafted in the last several years. He has added another 15 pounds of solid muscle, taking him up to between 205 and 210. I will address that in the interview. After seeing him in the first two days of workouts, I’d have to say that the extra size has definitely helped him, without slowing him down a bit. Look for him to have a very good season. Well, enough of my blabber, let’s hear what Vinny has to say.
RH – What is your overall impression of the NHL after your first season?
VL – The speed and the size of the players. It’s a much tighter game up here. There’s not as much room so you have to learn how to get to where you want to be on the ice.
RH – Do you think you learned that?
VL – Yes. By the end of the season I was pretty comfortable with things. I got a lot of help from some teamates with that type of stuff.
RH – Who helped you learn the ropes so to speak? Read more»
After making the trades on draft day, the Lightning’s first pick in the 1999 draft was in the second round, the 47th overall pick. With that pick they selected Sheldon Keefe, RW from the Barrie Colts. Although he came with tremendous statistical numbers, 51 goals, 65 asst., 116 pts. in 66 games, he also came with some baggage. Namely Mr. Frost. The agent/representative was rumored to have been advising Sheldon. Whether or not he actually was, is not clear. It is now, and was at the time of the draft, clear that if there was any connection between the two it had been terminated.
Tampa Bay had confidence that the information they got, about there being no ties between the two, was good. They also had heard that some of the other criticism about his attitude and size were mainly sour grapes brought on by the rumors about Mr. Frost. At pick #47, if their information was correct, they had a steal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, and even myself personally, are still taking some criticism from people over the trades made on draft day. I am still of the opinion that this criticism is way off the mark. With the dust still settling from the moves made in Boston last month, they again juggled their personel. They sent Niklas Sundstrom, acquired in the draft day trades, and a 3rd round pick also acquired in the same deal, to the San Jose Sharks for four players.
The players coming to the Lightning in the deal are Billy Houlder, Shawn Burr, Andrei Zyuzin, and Steven Guolla. Houlder and Burr, both formerly with Tampa Bay, will add some needed character, experience, and depth. Guolla and Zyuzin add two more talented young players to the rebuilding Lightning.
Since the draft on Saturday, I have seen and heard reactions from various people, their comments covering the entire spectrum. Some have said that the Lightning had the worst draft of all the teams and others have said that they had one of the best. Let me give you my views on why I think that they had one of the better drafts on Saturday.
Let’s start with the focal point of the entire controversy, the first round trades. Everybody who says that Tampa blew it, says so because they traded away the chance to draft Pavel Brendl. In fact is, if the trades had not come along, they would have drafted Brendl even if they had kept the first overall pick. They would not have taken a chance on Stefan, and the only other possibility would have been a move to acquire both Sedins. Brendl was on top of their list by far. When they heard that Vancouver had already made moves to get the twins, and they already knew that Atlanta wanted Stefan, they saw the opportunity to move down and still get their man. They made the trade to move down to fourth and got two third round picks for that. Then, the Rangers called, and they knew the Rangers really wanted Brendl. They ended up getting two players, Sundstrom and Cloutier, along with two picks next year, a first round and a third round for their #4 overall. So if you break down the trades it works out to essentially this….
Brendl, Stefan, and Sedin’s Oh My!!!!!!!
The Lightning are in their regular position of selecting number one overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. However this year the Bolts seem to have more options than usual. Because of the lack of a true can’t miss pick like Joe Thornton and Vinny Lecavalier, the Lightning have several different directions they can go.
Option 1: Patrik Stefan C Long Beach IHL (6’3” 205lbs) – maybe the best player in the draft after tearing up the IHL as a 17 year old. However, because of concussion and knee injuries and his below average skating ability, the Lightning are turned off to him. Not helping matters is that Stefan’s agent won’t allow his client to take a physical for the club. Without a passing physical the Lightning will likely pass on the talented forward.
Option 2: Daniel Sedin LW MoDo Sweden (6’1” 180lbs) – don’t look for the Lightning to take Daniel without working out a deal to select his equally talented twin brother, Henrik C Modo Sweden (6’3” 196lbs), around the fourth or fifth selection.
Option 3: Pavel Brendl RW Calgary Hitmen WHL (6’1” 195lbs) – Brendle would install some much needed goal scoring life into a team that is on a offensive respirator. The only drawbacks seem to be some minor injuries and his adequate but not blazing speed. But it is amazing how 73 goals in 68 games can overshadow those concerns.