After the Tampa Bay Lightning selected goaltender Connor Ingram with their third round pick (88th overall) at the 2016 NHL Draft, Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said Ingram was the Bolts' top-ranked goalie on their draft board.
Over the first two days of the 2016 Rookie Tournament hosted by Florida at the Panthers IceDen, Ingram has shown why he was worthy of such lofty praise.
In Tampa Bay's 7-6 win over Washington in the opening game of the tournament, Ingram entered midway through the second period and stopped 18 of 20 shots over the final 30 minutes to help the Bolts rally from a 4-2 deficit.
A day later, Ingram was even better against the Nashville Predators' prospects.
The 19-year-old netminder made 19 saves on 20 shots and shut down the Predators after they scored the opening goal, leading the Lightning prospects to a 4-1 victory, their second win in as many games at the tournament.
"We're very happy with Connor's performance today," Lightning prospects head coach Benoit Groulx said. "Yesterday, he looked sharp, and today he looks not only sharp but he looks confident. He was prepared and ready. It's good to see that, a young goalie like that being sure of himself."
Ingram is 2-0 with a .925 save percentage through two appearances in Coral Springs.
"It's been a busy summer, a lot busier than I thought it was going to be," Ingram said. "I don't think there was as much rust to knock off as some other guys might have. It feels good. It's good hockey to play, and it's fun."
A couple more selections from the Lightning's 2016 draft class were instrumental in Sunday's win. Fifth round pick Christopher Paquette (148th overall) came down the left wing and snapped a well-struck wrist shot past Nashville goalie Jonas Gunnarsson to level the score 1-1 at 15:59 of the second period.
In the third, seventh round selection Otto Somppi (206th overall) delivered the game-winning goal, taking a pass from Mitchell Stephens and shooting past Gunnarsson.
"I think it was a lot more stable game," Somppi said. "For myself, my first and second period was hard. The third was good for me, and I think for our whole team the third period was our best."
The Lightning scored three goals in the third period to pull away from the Predators. After Somppi put the Bolts ahead, Cameron Darcy took a stretch pass from Ben Thomas and beat Gunnarsson with a nifty move at the net off the resulting breakaway to push the lead to 3-1.
Brayden Point continued his torrid play by notching an empty-net goal with 1:37 remaining in the game. Point has scored three goals and recorded five points in two games to pace the Bolts in both categories.
"We got the momentum early (in the third period), and that was good to see," Groulx said.
After allowing six goals on Saturday to the Capitals' rookies, the Lightning were able to clamp down defensively, thanks partly to Ingram and partly to a renewed emphasis on their own end.
"It's tough to judge (our defense) because I think today at times we were lost in our zone," Groulx said. "I thought Connor did a great job. What we did well today again, we worked hard, we competed hard and I think that was the difference at the end. But overall, a better performance defensively, but I think we can play much better than that."
The Lightning outshot Nashville 30-20.
Tampa Bay will have a practice day on Monday before completing the tournament on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers rookies. The Bolts can go a perfect 3-0 with a win over the Cats.
As for Ingram, he's enjoying his time with the Lightning in his first professional rookie camp.
And he's looking to get as much out of camp as possible.
"I've been taking as many free waters as I can before they send me home," he joked.