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Fortier looking to expand skill set with Lightning

Forward prospect put through high-intensity skating drills, wants to display scoring touch

by Corey Long / Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla. -- Gabriel Fortier's first workout at the Tampa Bay Lightning developmental camp on June 27 capped off a whirlwind week and left the forward with some tired legs.

"They are sore a little bit," Fortier said. "It's been a week since I've trained so it was pretty hard."

Fortier, who was selected by the Lightning in the second round (No. 59) in the 2018 NHL Draft, had never worked on power skating before, much less experienced the high-intensity drills under skating consultant Barb Underhill.

"It was pretty hard for me, but I think the other players seemed to have it hard as well," Fortier said. "But it's always a tool you have in your bag to become a better player. The game is faster and it's about speed. Right to left, brake, stop. So I think it's very useful and the guys that play in the NHL are good at it."

At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Fortier knows he isn't going to be the biggest person on the ice, but takes pride in his commitment to playing a 200-foot game and his ability to play in all situations.

"I like to be involved in as many aspects of the game I can," Fortier said. "I want to be strong on the puck and make the right decisions on offense, but also be responsible defensively, play on both the special teams and be a guy that can contribute to the power play or the penalty kill."

Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said Fortier has the skill set that makes him a good fit in Tampa Bay.

"People are going to like Gabriel,'' Murray said. "He's very smart, he's highly competitive, good skills, he's fast and he tested really well at the combine. He can play all three forward positions. He can move all over the place, up and down the lineup. He has the attributes that we look for."

In 2017-18, Fortier had 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) with Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and won a gold medal with Team Canada in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, scoring two goals in five games.

With at least another full season in juniors ahead, Fortier is looking forward to expanding his play and showcasing a stronger scoring touch.

"I definitely want to do more offensively and show people what I'm capable of when the puck is on my stick," Fortier said. "And that will come as my skating improves, which is what I'm working on here. It's a great opportunity to work with the coaches and display my skills for the people that drafted me."

With the Lightning's history of developing smaller forwards like Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, and Yanni Gourde, Fortier is confident he is in the right place.

"Those guys work hard every shift, they aren't afraid to challenge the bigger players," Fortier said. "That's the way I am and that's why I am excited to be here."

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