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.
We have signed college free agent Odeen Tufto to an entry level contract for the 2021-22 season. https://t.co/9RGzPvUz3W— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 31, 2021
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.
Tufto led Quinnipiac in assists and points all four seasons. His 129 career assists set a new program record and he led the nation in assists (and finished second in scoring) this year.— Lukas Favale (@LukasFavale) March 31, 2021
He was a teammate with current Crunch defenseman Chase Priskie for two seasons (2017-19). https://t.co/XGR5sadEKn
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.
#NCAAHockey Plays of the Week— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) February 18, 2020
4️⃣ | Wyatt Bongiovanni collects a turnover and chips the puck up to Odeen Tufto who then chipped the puck one-handed into the upper left corner for a @QU_MIH goal! pic.twitter.com/U2AGjJlHG4
Odeen Tufto has consistently proven why he is a Hobey Baker Award Top Ten Finalist.— Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey (@QU_MIH) March 25, 2021
1st in Nation with 38 assists
2nd in Nation with 45 points
2nd in Nation with .636 FO %
Have you cast your daily vote today?
: https://t.co/BZyhzcZ1h5#TuftoBeat | #BobcatNation pic.twitter.com/mVvfGvFEqV
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.
Good news for #tblightning with Erik Cernak, Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman among first on ice for practice. All in regular jerseys.— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) March 31, 2021
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.
Hearing that the Florida Panthers are close to signing prized goalie prospect Spencer Knight, their first-round pick, 13th overall, from 2019. Could happen today or tomorrow.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 31, 2021
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.