The current year has been markedly noteworthy for Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Brayden Point.
Point began 2015 helping Team Canada win Gold at the IIHF World Junior Championships, his two goals and four points through seven games highlighted by an assist on Canada’s second goal in the 5-4 victory over Team Russia in the final.
He completed his season with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League averaging a career-high 1.45 points per game and leading the Warriors in goals (38) and points (87).
In March, Point signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Lightning and played the remainder of the season with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse, where he scored two goals and assisted on two more in nine games.
Returning to Team Canada for the World Junior Summer Showcase in Calgary last week, Point continued his remarkable recent run.
Despite playing only two of Canada’s four games, Point delivered a Showcase-best eight points, doubling the total of the next nearest participant, teammate Travis Konecny. The 19-year-old had two goals and five points in a 7-1 victory over the Team Czech Republic.
“Brayden was his usual self,” said Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray, who was on hand to watch Point’s dominating performances. “There’s not many games you go to at any level where he’s not one of the best players or the best player on the ice. He was that again for Team Canada.”
Point scored three goals total, tied with Canada’s Dylan Strome for most in the Showcase.
Canada finished 2-0 in the two games Point played, dismantling the Czech Republic in both contests by a combined 13-3.
Canada was 3-1 overall.
“He played on Team Canada last year,” Murray said. “He’ll be one of their top players this year. He’s just a tremendous offensive player with terrific skill.”
Tampa Bay’s first selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, second-round selection (33rd overall) Mitchell Stephens, also played well for Team Canada. Stephens, a native of Petersborough, Ontario, got into three games and scored a goal while exhibiting the versatility that made him a top draft target of the Lightning.
“He played on the second line one game, fourth line another game,” Murray said. “He played center and both wing positions. He made a very good account of himself. What he showed again this year at the Under-20 level is he can play any of the three forward positions and on any of the four lines.”
On Draft Day, Murray, citing Stephens’ size, work ethic and adaptability, compared the newly-selected forward to current Bolt Ryan Callahan.
Those same attributes were on display at the Junior Showcase.
“He never takes a shift off and works hard both ways,” Murray said. “He can play an offensive role and play a defensive role.”
Dominik Masin, projected to be one of the top defensemen on the Czech World Junior Team, wasn’t able to play in the Junior Showcase as he is still recovering from a broken bone in his thumb that occurred during an off-ice injury according to Murray.
Also last week, a trio of Lightning prospects took part in the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Team Finland forward Jonne Tammela, a fourth-round pick (118th overall) of the Lightning in the 2015 Draft, had a goal and an assist in four games as Finland finished 1-4 overall.
“Jonne played exactly the role and exactly the way we expected him to play,” Murray said. “He plays with a lot of energy. He’s a very good skater. He works his tail off, finishes off hits.”
For Team U.S.A.’s White squad, 2014 second-round pick Johnathan MacLeod had one assist in two games. 2015 sixth-round pick Kristian Oldham, an 18-year-old goalie from Anchorage, Alaska, got into three games and played over 91 minutes for Team U.S.A.’s Blue squad.