clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lightning Round: Tampa Bay sign NCAA free agent Odeen Tufto

New, comment

Not April Fools

Quinnipiac v Boston University
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 19: Odeen Tufto #29 of the Quinnipiac University Bobcats skates against the Boston University Terriers during NCAA men’s hockey at Agganis Arena on January 19, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bobcats won 4-3 on a goal with 2.5 seconds remaining in regulation.
Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed 24-year-old NCAA forward Odeen Tufto (tough-toe) to a two-year NHL contract beginning in the 2021-22 season. Tufto is a graduate of Quinnipiac University and was the captain of their men’s hockey team this season. Undrafted, he scored 47 points this season in only 29 games, specifically eight goals and 39 assists. In short, he’s a heck of a playmaker.

Per the CBA, Tufto can’t have an NHL contract for this season and can’t sign a three-year deal. However, his two-year deal starts next Fall and he’s gotten an ATO (Amateur Try-Out) with the Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of their season. Presumably within the next two weeks, he’ll be making his pro debut with the Crunch.

Scouts are very high on his offensive potential, noting he has NHL-calibre playmaking ability and should at the very least be a high-end AHL scorer. My first question when I see a really good playmaker is whether they work hard on the ice to win those battles and ultimately get those chances. From what I’ve heard, he works hard on the ice so I’m optimistic.

It should be mentioned that undrafted NCAA free agents are 24 when they turn pro and are pretty much what they are in terms of a developed product. There is obviously room for adjustment, but you don’t often see large improvements in skill or ability.

After watching some video, I think Tufto has the talent to be an AHLer, but I worry a little bit about the pace of play. The AHL is quick and playmakers often don’t get the time and space they want to find a player and make the pass. Sure, you can find that time on the power play, but being good on the power play doesn’t get you into the NHL. Looking at the Crunch specifically, I would want him to out-play someone like Declan McDonnell right away and not make it look like there’s a debate. That’s because there shouldn’t be one, there’s a five-year gap between their ages.

Lightning Links

Due to cap reasons, the Lightning have been playing very close to the limit in terms of players they have available. Geo wrote a great article yesterday laying out the potential for the team to unfortunately dress a short roster for a game this week. [Raw Charge]

“Last night, Tampa Bay Lightning fans got a pretty big scare when Victor Hedman went into the boards awkwardly. He had just taken a shot and a Columbus Blue Jackets defender was sliding towards him and then popped up right underneath him to put him off balance. It looked bad. And I mean, reeeeaaaaalllllll bad. Hedman wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg as he went to the bench and down the tunnel to the locker room.”

However, there is hope with three very important defensemen all skating in regular jerseys on the team’s practice day.

In Syracuse Crunch news, Florida Panthers top goalie prospect Spencer Knight has finished his year in the NCAA and has chosen to turn pro. Either he or the Panthers third goalie Stephane Desrosiers could be sent to the Crunch for playing time. IT would be really exciting to watch Knight play.

In the NHL, things got a little chaotic during Colorado’s 9-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Nathan MacKinnon tossed a helmet at a player, getting ejected, and he and Mikko Rantanen both fought Coyotes at the same time. Joonas Donskoi also had a hat trick in the game.