With the 192nd overall pick in the sixth round, the Lightning have selected forward Connor Kurth. It’s been a trend for the Lightning in the draft over the past five or six years to target NCAA bound players, sometimes even overage one. Kurth continues that trend as he was passed over in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
In his draft year, Kurth played in 52 games in the USHL for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, recording 15 goals and 41 points. He added 35 goals and 81 points in 62 games this past year for Dubuque. Kurth is committed to the University of Minnesota and will join the Golden Gophers next season. Kurth is also on the younger end of his draft class as he won’t turn 19 years old until July 30th.
Once again, this is a bit of an off the board pick for the Lightning as not many of the public scouting services even bothered to rank him or dedicate any time to him in their publications this year. However, Elite Prospects did create a scouting report for him even though he wasn’t ranked to give us a little bit of information on him.
From the scouting report, it looks like Kurth has a pretty good shot and is a capable passer. His skating is a big issue though, with some bad mechanics and lack of speed. The scouting report does note though that he has made improvements from last season and so there’s at least some hope that he can continue to work on his shortcomings and improve while he plays for the University of Minnesota.
One thing that sticks out to me about Kurth is that he is listed at 5’11”, but 214 pounds. That is a very solid frame without a lot of height. The individual game scouting reports paint a picture of him being a physical player that is good along the boards, which isn’t surprising with his weight, and that he can be a bit of a pest.
We’ve reached the portion of the draft where every player picked has some flaws in their game that will keep them from the NHL if they cannot overcome them. For Kurth, it looks like it will be his skating and speed that could hold him back. With going for an NCAA player, the Lightning will control his rights throughout his NCAA career so they will probably have four years to watch him develop before committing to a contract for him.