Even though Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko headline the 2019 draft class, there are still a number of interesting prospects that will be available to the Tampa Bay Lightning when their turn is up. The Lightning own the 27th overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the same spot they were in when they drafted Brett Howden in 2017. There’s also a chance they could trade down and draft early in the second round instead, as they did in 2014 and 2015.
When we get closer to the draft, we’ll start digging in deep on individual profiles. But to get you started thinking about what the team will do during the first round on June 21st in Vancouver, here are six CHL players who could be available for the Lightning.
Brett Leason (C/RW)
April 30th, 1999
Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
6’4”, 201 lbs
Leason is probably the most interesting player to watch in this draft because he could go as early as mid-first simply because of his size and offensive capabilities. This is his third year of draft eligibility, and he probably wouldn’t be anywhere near the first round had he not put up almost 90 points this season. The 6’4” centre has very nifty hands, a hard, heavy shot, and excellent vision. Although his acceleration skating could use some work, Leason is very difficult to move off of the puck and a workhorse on the forecheck, and agile enough to create offense even with defenders stapled to him (if he hasn’t shook them free already).
Samuel Poulin (LW)
February 25th, 2001
Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
6’2”, 207 lbs
Another big, smart, two-way forward, Poulin can contribute to a team’s offense in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s a screen in front of the goalie, digging out pucks from corners, or feeding passes through tight seams to find his teammates, Poulin also has a deadly one-timer, can beat goalies on his forehand or backhand, and is exceptionally dangerous on the rush. Like all bigger players, Poulin’s skating needs improvement, but every other skill is NHL-ready. He demonstrated his offensive prowess at the CHL Top Prospects Game back in January, and at the U-18s this week.
Connor McMichael (C)
January 15th, 2001
London Knights (OHL)
5’11”, 174 lbs
McMichael caught my eye at the CHL Top Prospects Game when he scored the winning goal with about a minute left in the game. He was given a larger role in London this season and managed to stand out on a talented and deep Knights team. McMichael is a solid skater with a deceptive shot, as well as high hockey IQ and excellent vision. Despite his size, he isn’t afraid to play physically and is strong on the forecheck. He’ll need to add a little more weight and work on his consistency, but his offensive instincts are undeniable.
Nolan Foote (LW)
November 29th, 2000
Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
6’3”, 187 lbs
The younger brother of Syracuse Crunch defenseman and most recent Lightning first-round pick Cal Foote has rediscovered his scoring touch this season. He’s got a quick release that makes his heavy wrist shot more dangerous. He’s also a very intelligent player who can find open areas on the ice as well as cause pressure and force turnovers on the forecheck. Foote uses his size to his advantage in puck battles at both ends of the ice and as a screen in front of the net. His skating has gotten better this season and his edgework is strong, but he’ll have to work on his speed to make the next step.
Matthew Robertson (LD)
March 9th, 2001
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6’4”, 201 lbs
Robertson is the defenseman every team wants. He’s 6’4”, a mobile skater, and plays defense-first. He plays in all situations in Edmonton, can execute breakouts, makes smart defensive plays, and has a heavy point shot. Robertson’s smooth skating is complemented by smart positioning, and he’s difficult to force off of pucks, especially in his own end. He’s not afraid to use his size to create turnovers and has good gap control as well. Robertson’s intelligence and defensive ability is what will help him succeed at the next level.
Kaedan Korczak (RD)
January 29th, 2001
Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
6’2”, 192 lbs
It’s not a very strong draft for defensemen, but Korczak fits the ‘stay-at-home’ mould to a tee. He has the ability to contribute offensively, as Korczak is an intelligent defender who prefers to default to passes to teammates or slide into the open areas in the offensive zone. He is also a strong puck carrier and handler in every area of the ice. Korczak is very steady in his own end, always aware of his team’s defensive coverage, and rarely misses an assignment. He has a fairly solid slapshot, and alternates between that and the slap-pass when he plays on the man-advantage. Plus, right-shot defensemen are at a premium in the NHL these days.
|Brett Leason||Prince Albert (WHL)||RW/C||55||36||53||89|
|Samuel Poulin||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||LW||67||29||47||76|
|Connor McMichael||London (OHL)||C||67||36||36||72|
|Nolan Foote||Kelowna (WHL)||LW||66||36||27||63|
|Matthew Robertson||Edmonton (WHL)||LD||52||7||26||33|
|Kaedan Korczak||Kelowna (WHL)||RD||68||4||29||33|