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NHL Draft Notebook: Lightning pleased after first round

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

PHILADELPHIA – The Tampa Bay Lightning may have walked away with just one draft pick instead of two after Day 1, but still felt that things were nearly perfect.

The one thing that made it less than that?

A song to describe their emotions.

“The only thing missing was Pharrell Williams singing the ‘Happy’ song,” director of amateur scouting Al Murray said. “Other than that, everything was perfect.”

That’s because drafting 18-year-old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting was a player the Bolts scouting staff had been wildly impressed with and had zeroed-in on drafting.

It was also the most time and work Murray had put into scouting in 20-plus years of working in the business.

“Everyone we talked to, all the research we did, points to a really terrific young guy,” Murray said.

And while many considered DeAngelo an early second-round pick, Murray would easily put him in the Top-10 in his draft class, calling him the “most skilled offensive-defenseman in the draft.”

The Lightning see DeAngelo’s vision, hockey sense, ability to move the puck quickly as bonuses when drafting him. They will look for him to get stronger and work on his defensive zone coverage as he develops.

No fly zone for Philly native

As DeAngelo was surrounded by many Philadelphia-based writers after being drafted by the Bolts, one mistakenly asked how he’d fit in with the Flyers identity.

“I don’t fit in with that identity,” DeAngelo said quickly.

DeAngelo is a native of the area and many thought the Flyers may draft the prospect who grew up going to “as many games as he could,” at the Wells Fargo Center, but when pick No. 17 rolled around Philly chose otherwise.

Yet DeAngelo was extremely pleased with where he ended up, saying he walked out of previous interviews with the Bolts feeling very confident.

DeAngelo was surrounded by more than 125 family and friends as his name was called on the stage at No. 19 with Tampa Bay and said his feelings on being drafted in his hometown arena were “50-50.”

“If I didn’t get drafted tonight it would have been way worse, I would have rather wanted to be some where else,” DeAngelo said. “But it happened and it’s a dream come true.”

Lightning not worried about character issues

After being suspended twice this past season for violating the OHL’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy, DeAngelo’s ability to control his emotions on the ice was something many scouts took into serious consideration.

However, the Lightning felt some of these issues were blown out of proportion and believe he is ready to change. In fact DeAngelo’s explanation of the incidents was one reason why they drafted him.

“We liked that he took responsibility for some of the errors he made,” Murray said.

The feeling was also mutual from the other side, as DeAngelo said the Lightning was one team that did not press the point regarding his suspension.

“They didn’t put a lot of pressure on me with all the suspension stuff,” DeAngelo said. “They just went over it and I was honest with them and they were honest with me.”

As for Yzerman, he acknowledged that his past actions were unacceptable, but as once an 18-year-old himself, he fully expects him to grow and move past those tendencies.

“We’re going to  hold to him to the same expectations that we hold to all of our players in Tampa,” Yzerman said. “He understands that and we believe in the boy.”

Other odds 'n ends

The Lightning acquired defenseman Jason Garrison from the Vancouver Canucks along with the rights to forward Jeff Costello and a seventh-round draft pick at the 2015 NHL Draft in exchange for their second-round pick in 2014.

Blueliner Mark Barberio was re-signed by the Bolts to a one-year, one-way contract Friday.

Tampa Bay has seven remaining draft picks Saturday in the second (35th, 57th), third (80th), fifth (140th, 142nd), sixth (170th) and seventh (200th) rounds.

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