The Tampa Bay Lightning officially had the day off from practice Monday, but that didn’t keep a familiar face from taking the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Dylan Blujus, selected by Tampa Bay in the second round, 40th overall, at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, skated alongside Slater Koekkoek and skating consultant Barb Underhill to get a head start on his offseason training program, now that his junior team, the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, have been eliminated from the postseason.
“It felt good to get back out there with Barb, just working on the edges and working on my stride,” Blujus said. “The thing with Barb is that you might think you’re good at something, but then you work with her and she’ll make it 10 times better, so it was nice to get out here and work in a sweat.”
Blujus said it had been about three weeks since he last did a hard skate, and even longer since he had performed much of the same here in Tampa Bay.
An attendee at the Lightning’s 2012 Development Camp in July, Blujus recorded just two goals, but had 29 points in 68 games with Brampton this past season, with his 27 assists serving as a club-best among all Battalion defensemen.
That’s not a bad year by a third-year junior player by any means, although it was a slight dip in production from the previous season, in 2011-12, when he had seven goals and 34 points in two less games.
Again, though, that is why Blujus is putting in the extra work beginning now, so that his development process occurs at a more accelerated rate.
“I’m only here for a short time, so I’m trying to make the most of it,” Blujus added.
There is no specific timetable for how long Blujus will be in town.
Right now, he’s enjoying working with Underhill, and rooming in the hotel with Koekkoek for that matter, admitting that “no time in Tampa is a bad time.”
As for the rest of the summer once he leaves the tropical peninsular, Blujus is focused on just working on his strengths, he said, which include becoming a better skater and getting stronger.
“For any prospect, both of those things are key,” Blujus said. “Today was kind of the first day of my summer training, so if I keep it up and continue to work, I should have a pretty good year next year.”