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2014 NHL Draft: Anthony DeAngelo and what could have been

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After a tumultuous 2012-2013 campaign, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected perennial all-star Jonathan Drouin with the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Although Drouin was sent back to his junior team in the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads, that same year, the Lightning still found success in the 2013-2014 season.

With rookies Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson enjoying tremendous seasons and eventually finishing second and third, respectively, in Calder Trophy voting, the Lightning squeaked past the Montreal Canadiens with a Game 82 shootout win at the Washington Capitals to gain home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff matchup with the Habs.

Although they were swept, the Yzerplan seeds were being sown, and eventual playoff success seemed inevitable.

With this early playoff exit, the Lightning were still fortunate to be picking in the Top 20 of the Draft. At pick number 19, they selected right-handed defenseman Anthony DeAngelo out of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. DeAngelo was coming off of a 71-point campaign in 51 games for the Sting, which was quite impressive for an 18-year-old. However, there were a bevy of question marks surrounding his character, which some scouts believed would hamper his draft stock.

In his draft year, DeAngelo was handed an 8-game suspension for a slur directed at a teammate. This was the second time that same year that he was suspended for such an action. The Lightning, along with all other 29 NHL teams, were aware of his hotheadedness, but with proactive coaching, the Lightning scouting staff deemed it an appropriate risk to select Tony D.

Many scouts viewed DeAngelo as the most offensively-gifted defenseman in this draft, and the Lightning were in dire need of not only a great defensive prospect but also one that had a right-handed shot. As I watched this draft live, I was ecstatic with the selection because I was aware of DeAngelo’s offensive instincts and his potential as an NHL defenseman, as I’m sure with Lightning were, too.

After being returned to juniors for the 2014-15 campaign, DeAngelo lit up the OHL with both the Sting and Sault Ste. Marie, scoring 89 points in 55 games, and being named the CHL Defenseman of the Year. Turning pro in the 2015-16 season, DeAngelo played in 69 games for the Crunch, posting 43 points. However, he often found himself in Rob Zettler’s doghouse—the Syracuse Crunch head coach.

For undisclosed purposes, DeAngelo was a healthy scratch on nine separate occasions, and the media and fans can only speculate as to why. The managerial staff of the Bolts was clearly none too happy with his character issues and thus sent him to the Coyotes at the 2016 NHL Draft for the 37th overall selection, which the Bolts used to pick left-handed defenseman Libor Hajek.

It would’ve been great if Stevie Y could have shipped out Matt Carle’s contract with Tony D before buying him out, but to each his own.

It’s too bad that the Lightning’s staff could not correct DeAngelo’s character issues, as there was plenty of offensive talent that still remained on the draft board at pick #19. Some of these players include Nick Schmaltz, Robby Fabbri, Kasperi Kapanen, David Pastrnak, Josh Ho-Sang, Ivan Barbashyov, and Christian Dvorak. Barbashyov and Dvorak both went in the second round, but one could imagine how much of an impact Robby Fabbri could have had on the Lightning’s 2015-16 playoff campaign. It’s nice to dream, isn’t it?

As a result of the Marty St. Louis-Ryan Callahan deal, the Lightning also had the Rangers 1st round pick in 2014. The Bolts eventually dealt this pick to the Isles, who took the aforementioned Josh Ho-Sang, for two second round picks (#35 and #57).

The Lightning used both second round picks on defensemen. At pick #35, they took a lefty in Dominik Masin, and with pick #57, a righty in Johnathan MacLeod. During his draft year, Masin was playing overseas in the Czech Republic, and MacLeod was playing for the USDP.

Masin is currently playing on the left side of the Crunch’s third pair, whereas MacLeod is playing at Boston University. Masin’s potential seems to be limited to maybe a #4/5 defensemen, and it’s not certain if MacLeod will receive a contract from the Lightning when his tenure at BU finishes in the Spring of 2018.

It would’ve been great for the Lightning to have selected right-hander Brandon Montour out of the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks, who ended up going to the Ducks with pick #55. Montour projects to be a nice 2nd-pair defenseman with great offensive ability. If only.

The Lightning did, however, redeem themselves in the 3rd round of this draft with the 79th pick overall, selecting the shifty, flashy Brayden Point, a center out of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Point put up 91 points in 72 games as a 17-year-old in his draft year, and some scouts considered him to be a 1st-round talent. But, as the story goes, he was too small and was never going to even get a sniff at the NHL.

If only teams learned from the stories of Marty St. Louis and Tyler Johnson.

The Lightning were certainly not going to let Point get away from them, and thus traded up one spot to get him, sending the 80th overall selection and a 7th-round pick to the Minnesota Wild. A phenomenal selection this was. Point was able to make the transition from the juniors to the NHL immediately—the first prospect to do so in the Yzerman era.

In his rookie year, Point has tallied 29 points in 58 games. After returning from an injury that kept him out of the lineup for a month, Point has been finishing his chances like he did in juniors. Point projects to be a very nice 2nd-line center, and his play continues to make Tyler Johnson expendable.

Hopefully, the Lightning send Johnson’s RFA rights to someone with a bevy of young budding defensive prospects or current NHLers like the Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators and let Point solidify himself as the #2 center. This selection by the Bolts was certainly their best of the 2014 Draft.

In the 4th round of the draft, the Bolts, after acquiring the Rangers’ original selection, selected right-handed defenseman Ben Thomas out of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. Thomas was rated by scouts as high as #65 by McKeen’s Hockey to as low as #94 by Future Considerations.

Thomas has enjoyed a very smooth transition to the pros, putting up 16 points in 59 games for the Syracuse Crunch. Time will tell on Thomas’ future with the big club. Just seven picks ahead of Thomas, the Predators selected Viktor Arvidsson, who was a 5’9" 21-year-old at the time. Arvidsson has gone on to have a ridiculous statistical year in a contract year for him, posting 27 goals and 26 assists in 70 games for the Preds.

In a series of trades with the Blues and Rangers, the Bolts shipped out their 5th round draft choice, which eventually landed in the hands of the Blueshirts, who selected Tyler Nanne, a right-handed defenseman out of the United States. Nanne transferred from Ohio State to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, after not seeing playing time with the Buckeyes in the 2015-16 campaign.

With the 170th overall pick, the Bolts selected Cristiano DiGiacinto out of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. DiGi projected to be a bottom-six grinder but did not receive a contract from the Bolts and is currently still playing in Windsor, as an assistant captain, as an overager.

Selected just one pick after DiGi was Kevin Labanc, out of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. LaBanc put up wicked scoring numbers in the two years he played in juniors after his draft year, posting 107 points in 68 games in 2014-15 and 127 points in 65 games in 2015-16. He turned pro this year and tore up the AHL in his first 16 games, scoring 19 points. After being called up to the Sharks, he has posted 19 points in 49 games. A nice find for San Jose.

With their final selection in the 2014 Draft, the bolts selected Cam Darcy. Darcy was a 20-year-old playing for Cape Breton in the Q. He was selected, I believe, to fill a role in Syracuse rather sooner. After being returned to juniors after his draft year, he was signed to an entry-level deal and has since been playing back and forth between the Crunch and the Bolts’ ECHL affiliate the Kalamazoo Wings.

Selected later in the same round was Ondrej Kase, a winger out of the Czech Republic. Kase has gone on to play in 51 games for the Ducks this season, posting 14 goals in 51 games. Not bad for a guy taken five spots before the last pick of the draft.

After examining the Lightning’s 2014 Draft, it is clear that this was not their best. Although they did find a gem in Brayden Point in the third round, they did take a gamble with Tony DeAngelo in the first round—one that did not pay off.

The other players that the Lightning selected in this draft also do not have the potentials today that the scouting staff saw in them during their draft year.

Reviewing old drafts is fun, isn't it?

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This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.