Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

Cal Foote, the Lightning's first-round draft pick, has a Cup-winning d-man for a father.
Published June 24 2017
Updated June 25 2017

CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

Adam, a 20-year NHL veteran, even took Cal into the room for Colorado's Stanley Cup celebration in 2001. Cal was 2. "I wish I could remember more," Cal said, smiling.

But Friday, the two Footes shared an unforgettable moment. Cal, a defenseman like his dad, got picked No. 14 overall by the Lightning in the first round of the draft. The father and son embraced in the United Center stands, Adam beaming with pride.

"(Adam) pretty much taught me everything I know about the game," Cal said. "To be around him, He's helped me a ton. I'm very fortunate."

The Lightning felt fortunate to land the 6-feet-4 Cal, who played for Kelowna in the junior Western League last season. The Lightning had plenty of other options at No. 14, including Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren and Russian power forward Klim Kostin. But general manager Steve Yzerman said that not only is Cal a great prospect, he fills an organizational need, adding another right-shot puck mover.

It was interesting that Yzerman, who had many fierce battles with Adam during the legendary Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry, picked his son.

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"(Cal is) a different player from his dad. Adam Foote was mean," Yzerman said. "He was a good player, a great skater. He was mean. In watching Cal, he's a little bit more understated. He probably has a little bit more offense to his game. He's big and strong. … You can see some similarities."

Cal calls himself a two-way defenseman. He racked up 57 points in 71 games last season for Kelowna, where he played with his younger brother, Nolan, 16. Cal can play in all three zones. Yzerman believes he can eventually contribute to both special teams in the NHL.

"He can shoot it. He sees the ice and knows it really well," Yzerman said. "An all-around defenseman."

Yzerman was trying hard to acquire another defenseman via trade but said nothing was close Friday. The Wild was among the teams shopping defenseman; in its case, Marco Scandella.

But for now, the Lightning is more than happy with Foote, who joins a strong pool of young defensemen in the system. Tampa Bay last week acquired Mikhail Sergachev from Montreal in the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster. It also acquired right-shot Erik Cernak in the February Ben Bishop trade with the Kings and a pick that turned into Libor Hajek in the Anthony DeAngelo trade at last year's draft. Promising prospect Ben Thomas is at AHL Syracuse.

Foote won't be pushing for a roster spot in training camp. Cal (short for Callan), who is expected to play one more season for Kelowna, said improving the quickness in his size-16 feet is the biggest thing he needs to improve to jump to the NHL.

"I still have some room to grow, that's for sure," Foote said. "I want to make the jump whenever I'm ready for it."

Adam, who coached Cal and Nolan for three years, said he never pushed his sons to play hockey, letting it happen naturally.

"We're completely different," Adam said. "I didn't have the confidence (Cal) has as far as offensive ability. I had to muck it up and get in battles to stay in the league. He's his own guy, and I'm just proud of him."

Cal said he couldn't sleep Thursday night, anxious about the draft. But his father gave him some advice, having been through it. Adam was picked in the second round (22nd overall) in the 1989 draft by Quebec.

"He just said, 'Enjoy the moment, have fun, and soak it all in,' " Cal said.

And the two big Footes did, together.