Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning's Koekkoek in healing pattern

BRANDON — As the action swirled on the ice below him, Slater Koekkoek sat mostly still while watching from an overhang at the corner of the rink.

It was all for the best, the prized prospect acknowledged Tuesday about being held out of the three-on-three tournament that is the centerpiece of the Lightning's five-day development camp at the Ice Sports Forum.

But that didn't make being a spectator — "a big downer," he called it — any easier.

You can't blame Tampa Bay for being careful with Koekkoek, 19, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2012 draft. The team projects him as perhaps a top-two defenseman. But in January, he had a second reconstructive procedure on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum.

The first operation, done during his draft year, failed. So, this time, Koekkoek (pronounced KOO-KOO) underwent a Latarjet procedure in which the coracoid bone of the shoulder blade is twisted slightly into a position where, with the help of a titanium screw, it anchors the shoulder in its socket.

"It will limit range of motion a little bit but not significantly, nothing functional," said Tommy Mulligan, the Lightning's head athletic trainer.

General manager Steve Yzerman said the expectation is Koekkoek will be cleared for contact by training camp.

"It's been pretty hard," Koekkoek said of the medical issues and seemingly constant rehabbing that limited him to 68 games the past two seasons. "Every day I work hard to keep the dream of playing in the NHL. That's all I think about. That's all I want and, hopefully, it can come true here soon."

Koekkoek, 6 feet 2, 183 pounds, will play next season for Windsor of the junior Ontario league. A great place to learn, he said, because coach Bob Boughner was a 10-year NHL defenseman.

Despite missing 68 games the past two seasons — something Yzerman said, "certainly doesn't help" — the belief is Koekkoek's development has not been significantly affected.

"He played (42) games last year," Yzerman said. "There are kids in college who played a full season of fewer games than him."

Added Al Murray, the Lightning's director of amateur scouting: "When I think of Slater's game, his skating is effortless, so that's not going to change. His hockey sense is very good and that's not going to change.

"What does slow down is his physical development. If he had been able to work out for two solid years he might be 200 pounds now and he would still have the same skating and hockey sense."

Both came in handy for Koekkoek as a power play quarterback and for knowing when to join the rush. His heavy, accurate shot has produced 18 goals and 70 points in 133 junior games.

"He's able to play in all situations," Murray said. "You don't want to get overly excited, but we took a player we think has a terrific chance to be a big part of the core of our team, and we still believe that."

Nice to hear, of course, but Koekkoek will have to wait for training camp to show the Lightning brass all he can do.

"It's tough whenever you play hockey and that's all you love," he said of sitting out three-on-threes. "Big picture, it was the right thing to do."

TOURNAMENT NOTES: Defenseman Nikita Nesterov and center Cedric Paquette had four goals each in three games and Paquette added nine assists for Team Hedman. Right wing Nikita Kucherov had three goals, eight points for Team Stamkos and left wing Jonathan Drouin had a goal and three points for Team Brewer. … Left wing Maxime Langelier-Parent (hip rehab) did not play. … Today's quarterfinals, semifinals and final will be streamed live at at about 11:15 a.m.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Lightning's Koekkoek in healing pattern 07/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday


    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during TCU’s 4-3 win in the College World Series.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101