Breaking down Lightning draft
Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said the team didn't enter this year's draft with the plan to address any defensive deficiencies in its prospect pool.
It just worked out that way that Tampa Bay selected three more defensemen in Saturday's second round, adding to first-round pick D Anthony DeAngelo.
"Just like last year where it was forward after forward, this year defensemen after defensemen that we liked fell to us," Murray said. "We took in every case a guy we felt was the best NHL prospect and it certainly helped balance out the reserve list."
The Lightning grabbed two defensemen in the second round, D Dominik Masin from Slavia Praha (Czech Republic) at No. 35 and D Johnathan MacLeod from the U.S. National Team Development Program at No. 57. The two don't have the flash or offensive skills as DeAngelo, more defensive-minded, positionally-strong defensemen who can are smart and hard to play against, Murray said. Both Mashin and McLeod, a Boston University commitment, were captains of their Under-17 teams.
Tampa Bay then traded its two fifth-round picks (140 and 142) to move into the fourth round at No. 119 to get D Ben Thomas, who had 31 points in 72 games for the Calgary Hitmen.
"This year we mentioned there was a lot more support players and role players, third and fourth line players, five and six defensemen, and those were the kind of guys that we added here," Murray said.
*BEST COMPARISON: The Lightning hit the jackpot in the seventh round in 2011 when it selected LW Ondrej Palat, who developed into the team's leading scorer and Calder Trophy finalist last season. Tampa Bay's seventh-rounder Saturday C Cameron Darcy, 20, has evoked comparisons to Palat.
"Before everyone gets excited, he's not yet Ondrej Palat," Murray quipped. "But two years ago, Ondrej Palat wasn't Ondrej Palat."
Darcy went from the U.S. National Development Program to play briefly at Northeastern before having a terrific season at Cape Breton in the QMJHL, tallying 82 points (35 goals) in 65 games. Murray said teams were lining up to invite Darcy to their camps as a free agent, so they made sure to trade up 17 spots to snag him at No. 185, giving the Islanders their seventh-round pick (No. 200) and seventh in 2015. "Very similar reason we took Ondrej Palat," Murray said.
AT THE POINT: The Lightning was intrigued enough by C Brayden Point to trade with Minnesota to move up one spot in the third round (79 overall) to grab the 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward.
What Point lacks in size he makes up for in skill and hockey sense, leading the Moose Jaw (Western Hockey League) with 91 points (36-55-91) in 72 games. He was the assistant captain for Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship, leading them to a bronze.
"He's not the biggest player in the game, not the fastest player in the game," Murray said. "But game after game, everytime you watch Moose Jaw, he's the best player in the game."
THE SCRAPPER:Sixth-round pick Cristiano Digiacinto says he plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 180 pound frame.
Digiacinto, who admires Bruins Brad Marchand, brings that type of gritty, physical style, enjoying scoring "greasy" goals and getting under opponent's skin. He's also not afraid to drop the gloves, getting in 11 fights for the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), drawing one suspension for chasing an opponent down.
"I'm a fearless player," Digiacinto said. "So if anyone wants to step up, I'm not afraid."
Said Murray: "You don't have to go looking for Cristiano, he finds you. The puck drops and the guy who is smacking into everybody all over the ice absolutely draws your attention, and that's Cristiano."
WHERE TO? Murray said DeAngelo, Point, Digiacinto and Thomas will all go back to their junior teams, MacLeod will go to Boston University or Monctcon (CHL), and Masin wants to play in North America in the CHL. Darcy is the only one who could end up at Syracuse in the American Hockey League. All will be at the Lightning’s development camp July 2-6 in Brandon.
TOP TALK: GM Steve Yzerman had discussions with the Panthers about trading up to the top overall pick Friday night.