The Lightning’s first-round draft pick celebrated with a new teammate before he even reached the stage. Nolan Foote got a big hug from his brother Cal, who is already in the system, after being picked 27th overall.
Nolan, a left wing, is now lined up to play with Cal, a defenseman, in a few years. The Lightning selected Cal 14th overall in 2017.
“It’s crazy to now be in the same organization in the NHL,” Nolan told reporters in Vancouver. “We didn’t think anything of it; we just thought it would be cool. But now it’s real and I can’t wait to celebrate with him.”
He added that Cal has been his biggest support throughout the draft process. The two played together in juniors, including on the same power play unit. Nolan believes they have some brother chemistry when on the ice at the same time.
Jon Cooper was ready with a quip about “two great feet” in his interview on the NBCSN broadcast.
“First of all, when the player comes up and is taller than the coach and the GM, that’s a good sign at this age,” he said of 6-foot-3, 189-pound, 18-year-old Foote.
Their father Adam played 19 NHL seasons and won the Stanley Cup twice with Colorado. So there are some good hockey genes in the Foote family.
This season, Foote scored 63 points, including 36 goals, in 66 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. He’s a goal scorer with room for improvement in his skating before he makes the NHL.
Foote said he talked to the Lightning and the combine but didn’t have an inkling he was on their board.
Before the draft, Julien BriseBois said the Lightning wouldn’t be considering need and would stick to its ranking. Outside of the top five picks, draftees likely won’t see the NHL for a few years. No team can really know what it will need years from now, so going for the best available makes the most sense.
This was the first of the Lightning’s six picks in this year’s draft. Barring any trades, Tampa Bay still has picks No. 89 (third round), 120 (fourth), 182 (sixth), 198 and 213 (seventh).
The Lightning did not have a first-round pick last season. Tampa Bay traded it to the Rangers as part of the trade package for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. This year’s second round pick was also included.
Contact Lightning beat reporter Diana C. Nearhos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @dianacnearhos. Contact Mari Faiello at email@example.com. Follow @faiello_mari.