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Alright, I’ve never professed to be a supreme judge of hockey talent and I prefer to let those who do it for a living speculate about who has moved up or down the Lightning depth chart this week. That said, I decided to go to the top of the Lightning hockey operations department today to get some opinions as the team’s Prospect Camp wraps up. Vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton was gracious enough to sit down with me at Juan de Fuca Arena today to offer some insight on what he and his scouting staff have seen this week.
First of all, the obvious question is about center Steven Stamkos
, who showed the full house at Juan de Fuca last night a glimpse of what Lightning fans can expect with two goals and three assists in the week’s second scrimmage game.Brian Lawton:
“He was tremendous the entire week. He worked hard, is a very humble young man. He really fit in with his teammates out here and made a great impression on everyone, as a player and as a person.”
How about another top Lightning pick – goaltender Riku Helenius
“Riku did a very nice job. It’s a long process with the goaltenders but in our opinion Riku’s right on track for eventually becoming a starter in the National Hockey League. The important thing is that he continues to stay focused and build his game.”
Now to the defensemen. What kind of camp has recent acquisition Ty Wishart had?BL:
“Ty’s been a terrific surprise – he’s got such good size and mobility with strong stick and puck skills. He’s a lot further along than we thought when we made the trade for him.”
“Chris Lawrence really surprised us, as did Andy Rogers. They are the perfect example of guys who just needed a fresh start and both responded very well. You can expect to see them in our main camp in Tampa and in exhibition games this year. We expect both of them to take a dramatic upswing in their careers.”
How about a couple of other Lightning draft choices – forwards Mitch Fadden and Alex Killorn? BL:
“Fadden and Killorn both played very well this week. Killorn’s going to Harvard and we expect big things from him down the road. Fadden were excited to see in Traverse City at the prospects tournament, and we’ll see how his development continues.”
Any others that stood out to you?BL:
“Defenseman Darryl Boyle – I thought he played very well. He’s really solid and moves the puck well. He’s showing a little more jump in his game, so were excited. Scott Jackson
also played well this week, and Justin Courtnall showed a lot of the traits his father, Geoff, had. We’re looking for a lot of development from him during the next two-to three years.”
Camp wrapped up today with final on and off-ice sessions at the Juan de Fuca Rec Center. The equipment managers hopped back in the truck this afternoon for another 52-hour jaunt across North America, while everyone else is flying home tomorrow. I’m off to Tim Horton’s for café mocha!